Monday, August 25, 2008

Democrat Platform supports prescription medcines from outside U.S.

The Democrat Party, which launched its nominating convention Monday, August 25, has gone on record in its Platform to include access for Americans to prescription medicines from 'developed' countries.

Significantly, it is included as a part of a broad and comprehensive approach to the total American health care system, a stance that more and more people, advocacy groups and policy-makers are beginning to accept, rather than limiting examinations of healthcare reform to a particular agenda.

The statement follows:
...lower drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices, allowing importation of safe medicines from other developed countries..."

When a copy of the GOP position becomes available, it will be posted. One can only hope that we might be presented with an historic opportunity in which both major political parties will make the bold steps necessary to bring about true comprehensive healthcare reform.

Investor validates role of prescription medicines to improved healthcare

by Daniel Hines
Publisher, TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com

The potential benefit of continued access to safe, affordable prescription medicines for U.S. citizens as a part of any signficant gains to be made in the American healthcare system has been identified by contrarian investor Robert Kleinschmidt in the August issue of Kiplinger's.
Kleinschmidt has made his fortune by identifying opportunities to invest in unpopular groups of stocks. In the Kiplinger's article, Kleinschmidt identifies pharmceutical stocks as such an opportunity.

His rationale: "The consensus will change when there's widespread recognition that drugs are part of the solution for healthcare as opposed to bieng part of the problem...if you think medical costs are a high percentage of the economy now, imagine what they would be if you couldn't solve a lot medical problems with a pill and had to solve them some other way..."

He continues that using pills is a "cost-effective way" of keeping people out of hospitals and by keeping them healthy, deters the need for more expensive operations and use of medical devices.

The conclusion is obvious: Access to safe, affordabale prescription medicines--including those from licensed, safe sources outside the U.S.--can, as noted in an earlier blog entry (Prescription Meds from outside U.S. offer lifeline to Part D and Medicare), addressing the healthcare needs of the U.S. in their totality is crucial to improved health for all Americans. To segment various issues--reimportation, making Part D a part of regular Medicare Administration, SCHIP, fighting privatization of Medicare, restoring fiscal integrity to Medicare and Medicaid, or prescription medicine safety--and identify them as 'the issue' of a particular group is both short-sighted and self-defeating.

That's why it is encouraging to see some new trends beginning to take place. Kleinschmidt's observation a succinct appraisal of the very real and important benefit to be attained--and not just for investors--but for all Americans.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced legislation that would incorporate a broad base of issues into policies, including but not limited to reimportation, that could improve the administration of Medicare, provide tremendous cost-savings and ease the strain upon the Budget, and improve the health of untold numbers of Americans.

Hopefully, the pharmaceutical industry will realize that as this occurs and Americans through the reduced costs made possible by such an approach, it will sell more prescription medicines, increasing their sales volume and profitability. And, in so doing, it will help validate Kleinschmidt's contrarian philosophy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Increased awareness of prescription medicine abuse

G.Anthony Howard, the president and CEO of CanaRx Services, Inc., a leading pharmacy plan developer and administrator has hailed the increased awareness in the U.S. of prescription medicine abuse as a beneficial development that will contribute to improved safety in the ordering and disbursement of prescription medicines.

“That is why we applaud all those local, state and Federal agencies that are working to identify and punish ‘bogus’ pharmacies and others who illegally disburse prescription medicines,” Howard says.

The role of prescription medicines in enhancing and protecting the public health cannot be denied when they are used for the purpose for which they were designed, and disbursed under the highest professional standards of safety and efficacy.
“By identifying those sources whose practices make prescription medicine abuse possible, we are confident that the increased public awareness will help resolve such abuse.”

Howard says that CanaRx works with more than 100 local governments in the U.S. to provide access to safe, affordable prescription medicines through voluntary plans for employees and retirees of the participating governmental bodies.
“CanaRx has always applied the highest standards and strongest procedures of oversight to guarantee not only the safety and efficacy of medicines distributed in plans with which we work, but to make sure to the greatest extent possible that there is no opportunity for abuse or the medicines being obtained being used for purposes other than their intended legitimate medical reasons,” Howard continues.
“CanaRx welcomes such increased awareness. We also view it as an opportunity to further explain our commitment to safety and efficacy, a commitment that has enabled us to establish a record of practicing the highest standards of safety and healthcare professionalism,” Howard concludes.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kucinich sees role for medicines from outside U.S. in resolving Medicare cost, coverage crisis

Posted by Daniel Hines,
Publisher www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com

In one of our recent entries, we made a case that prescription medicines from outside the U.S. could provide a life-line for the budget problems of Medicare and Medicare Part D. We also criticized the agenda of selected groups that did not even want to consider such a possibility, a move that led one group to object that 'dialogue' about the development of positions should be kept within the framework of the group and not made a matter of public debate. We disagree and contend that a consideration of the potential budgetary benefit of access to prescription medicines deserves inclusion in any policy considerations affecting Medicare and especially Part D. It is a proposition that should be included in any discussion or debate about Medicare and Part D. Exclusion of such consideration is akin to cutting off one leg of a three-legged stool.
All of which is prologue to our pleasure to see that at least one Congressman agrees with us as Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced legislation that would completely revamp Medicare Part D to include a role for prescription medicines from outside the U.S. There will be those who will poo-pah the support of Reprsentative Kucinich, citing that he is a perpetual Presidential aspirant who, like former President Jimmy Carter, says he has seen UFOs. But this is also the same man who opposed the violation of the Constitution in our entry into an undeclared war in Iraq, who has championed price relief for low-income families who face not being able to pay heating bills this winter, and who authored and co-sponsored legislation to create a national health care system, preserve Social Security, lower the costs of prescription drugs, provide economic development through infrastructure improvements, abolish the death penalty, provide universal prekindergarten to all 3, 4, and 5 year olds, create a Department of Peace, regulate genetically engineered foods, repeal the USA PATRIOT Act, and provide tax relief to working class families.
And, he has served in Congress since 1996. Before that, he was elected the youngest Mayor of Cleveland in the city's history.
The role that Congressman Kucinich plays is similar to the historic role of populists who, like the Man of LaManch, dream the impossible dream, and work to introduce ideas and proposals that eventually become public policy.
By identifying the linkage of the fiscal problems of Medicare Part D at least in part to the pricing practices of the pharmaceutical industry , and seeking relief with his new proposal, Representative Kucinich offers an opportunity to improve not only Medicare and Part D themselves, but to provide necessary fiscal relief to an overburdend system--all the while, enhancing the health and well-being of Americans that is possible through access to safe, affordable prescription medicines.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pharma, allies disingenuous, practicing misdirection on real purposes of proposed legislation on sale of controlled substances over the Internet

In a rare show of unity, the U.S. Senate passed the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (S. 980), introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

The bill is named in honor of the tragic death of the youthful Ryan Haight. The following is from the web site in honor of Ryan:

“Ryan Thomas Haight overdosed and died on February 12, 2001 on narcotics that he had easily purchased on the Internet. A medical doctor on the Internet that he never saw prescribed them, an Internet pharmacy mailed them to his home. He was only 17 when he purchased them, he was only 18 when he died. We are dedicated to educating and providing information for parents, families and our communities on issues concerning the Internet and Drug Abuse. It is too simple to get dangerous prescription drugs on the Internet. It is too easy for our youths to get information about drugs and to find out how and where to get them.”

Now, in a series of moves that are reprehensible in tone and manner because it does not reflect the purpose of the proposed legislation or a solution to the problem, pharma and its allies are attempting to co-opt the legislation for their own purposes by acting as though the legislation and the tragedy itself are somehow related to the safety and efficacy of legitimate, on-line pharmacies and prescription medicines from outside the United States.

In House of Representative hearings, a pharmacy industry witness conveniently lumped licensed, registered pharmacies from countries that face oversight that matches or exceeds that of U.S. pharmacies, actually purloining the intent of the hearing which was supposed to examine ways to stopping the sale of controlled substances by any pharmacy, including those in the U.S. A FDA spokesperson took the same tact, while a well-meaning lawyer from GoDaddy.com tried to explain how and why additional oversight was needed, but did not deal with the subject of licensed pharmacies from outside the U.S. making safe, affordable prescription medicines available to Americans.

Now, The Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA) has issued a statement commending Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI), Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) for introducing bipartisan legislation (H.R. 6353) to combat illegal online sales of prescription medicines.

Since this is the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to S 980, the HDMA is the latest to employ misdirection regarding the intent of the legislation—intent which we have verified with well-placed sources in Washington that S 980 is not associated in any way with the question of ‘reimporation’ of prescription medicines and their availability to U.S. citizens.

Need proof? Consider this explanation of the intent of the proposed legislation included in a release from Congressman Smith's office:

"The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 is a companion to legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The legislation is designed to stop Internet pharmacies that sell controlled substances without a valid prescription."

It is a matter of record that pharmacies such as those who are members of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association doing mail order business over the Internet do not sell controlled substances,and, that they sell no medicine without a proper prescription from a physician.

It is time to truly distinguish between the healthcare benefits provided to Americans by legitimate, licensed pharmacies from outside the U.S. and ‘Bad Meds.’
And, it is time for pharma and its allies to stop attempting to confuse the American public by incorrectly associating the tragedy of Ryan Haight to legitimate, licensed pharmacies that are practicing the highest standards of healthcare professionalism.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Patients buying fewer Prescription Drugs

Posted by Daniel Hines,
Publisher, www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com

Proof of the failure of Medicare Part D and the growing number of all Americans not having access to the health benefits of prescription medicines has come forth in a Wall Street Journal story describing how more and more U.S. citizens are unable to afford prescription medicines.

While it is still too early to measure what the harmful effects of this upon Americans' health might be, it is only logical that many people will suffer poorer health. This should end once and for all the approach by many groups and organizations who attempt to divide debate and discussion about comprehensive health care reform into segments based upon the "pet issue" or that particular groups, organizations or policy-makers.

Such an approach virtually guarantees that without including defining how to make safe, affordable prescription medicines more widely available into discussions about healthcare, we are risking the health and well-being of a growing number of Americans. The growth in costs, the decline in consumption and the potential health effects make it imperative that true competition be introduced into the U.S. pharmaceutical market by allowing U.S citizens to exercise their freedom of choice and purchase safe, affordable medicines from identifiable legitimate pharmacies outside the U.S.

Consider: The growth in prescriptions filled by U.S. pharmacies is at its slowest in at least ten years, as increasing health care costs and a slowing economy are making medication harder to afford.

According to the Wall Street Journal article, the drug industry usually remains stable in economic downturns, because patients still require medicine.
However, the number of prescriptions filled in the second quarter of 2008 may have actually decreased, due to higher numbers of Americans without health insurance and “skyrocketing out-of-pocket drug costs” putting the cost of some medications out of reach.

Patients are facing additional burdens as the health care industry has forced consumers to shoulder larger percentages of many costs.
A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that for a “preferred drug” through a tiered insurance plan, average co-payments rose 67 percent from $15 in 2000 to $25 in 2007.

In fact, 23 percent of respondents to a Kaiser foundation poll failed to fill a prescription in the last year for cost reasons, up from 20 percent in 2005.
Additionally, 19 percent either skipped doses or split pills, an increase from 16 percent in 2005.

Prescription Meds from outside U.S. offer lifeline to Part D

Posted by Daniel Hines
Publisher, www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com

(Part One of how and why safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, registered phamacies from outside the U.S. can benefit not only American's health, but can relieve the strained budgets of governmental services at the local, state and Federal levels. Part Two will deal with how local governments can generate vast savings for employee benefits, savings that can then be applied to other local services.)

As the U.S. economy continues to reel, the increasing cost of Medicare Part D threatens the very essence of a program that was claimed to be designed to address the prescription medicine needs of the country's aging population.

Increasingly, abuses of the system are apparent. Most recently, the Center for Medicare Services says that private plans that are woven in the fiber of Part D, have 'misinterpreted' the intent of CMS when the Part D was launched by developing a practice of 'locking in' a price structure in which PBMs charge a higher rate to insurers with whom they have contracted to administer their drug benefit than what they pay pharmacies to dispense the drugs to beneficiaries. The PBMs then keep the difference, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Ironically, a CMS administrator says that the agency thought it had a "clear policy"
prohibiting lock-in pricing when Part D launched. "We learned that there are different ways of interpreting a policy statement," she adds in a classic understatment.

Actually, since its inception, Medicare Part D has been flawed. It did not allow price negotiation to guarantee the lowest prices thereby generating savings for the Federal government and the intended beneficaries. The abomination of the 'Doughnut Hole' virtually eliminated hundreds of thousands of seniors who would receive little or no benefit unless they had staggering out-of-pocket costs which increase each year. And, the pharmaceutical industry continues to raise prices on brand name drugs, which makes Part D increasingly costly, although a "PR Spin" has been attempted to make it look as though savings have occured since the amount expended is lower than earlier estimates. The fact is that a large part of this claimed savings is due to lower than anticipated enrollment in plans.

In what can only be described as an American Tragedy, many policy-makers attack the claimed original intent of Part D, to help seniors enjoy the health benefits provided by prescription medicines, by labeling Part D (and Social Security and Medicare generally) as 'entitlement' programs that are burdensome to the country. One author even suggests that there is no alternative other than to cut Part D to 'save Medicare':
"In sum, Part D costs are soaring, and they could harm Medicare's core mission and the elderly. Because a tax increase is out of the question, one obvious solution is to amend the law and limit the drug benefit to save Medicare..." Quote from Spyros Andreopoulos is director emeritus of the Office of Communication and Public Affairs at Stanford University Medical Center.

Another approach comes from The Medicare Rights Center, on whose Citizens' Advisory Board I serve (Midwest Region). MRC advocates support of the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) along with U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Marion Berry (AR-01). The bill creates a Medicare administered prescription drug plan to provide seniors an alternative to the privately administered prescription drug plans currently offered under Part D.

The problem is that both of the above approaches suffer from the blinders that too often are worn by policy-makers and advocacy groups, blinders that prevent them from looking at the totality of the factors that can favorably influence a solution to challenges such as the increasing costs of Medicare plans.

The fact is that access to safe, affordable prescription medicines from outside the U.S. must be included in the discussion to the complete (debate) (discussion)on healthcare reform in this country. Such access not only offers a potential benefit to improved health for all Americans, but can almost instantly create savings that will favorably impact Medicare administration by allowing access to lower-cost, but safe medications.

Unfortunately, a Washington-based staff member of MRC says that she is interested only in the passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act, on initiatives of the MRC, and has no interest in even exploring the potential contribution of providing savings and choice by allowing access to prescription medicines from outside the U.S.

Also, a highly informative source in Washington has told us that he fears that in the next Congress in 2009, there will be such a rush to enact 'comprehensive health care reform' that it will be nothing more than a 'trading bloc' for a number of individual Senators, Congressmen, pharmaceutical industry and insurance company reps, each with their own particular agenda, be it liberal, conservative, or even anti- or pro-pharmaceutical and insurance industry oriented. He said he fears that pharma particularly will offer its support for some form of 'comprehensive health care reform' in return for the role of providing continued access to safe, affordable medicines from outside this country to U.S. citizens being discarded.

That's like throwing the baby out with the washwater. It is time for Congress to take action to provide such access to all Americans, and to do so in a fashion in which the role of prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One countries not only can maintain or even enhance the quality of healthcare in the U.S., but can provide fiscal savings that can actually help pay for other initiatives that will finally get this country on the road to an improved national health care policy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

It’s time to set the record straight on what really are 'Bad Meds'...

Posted by Daniel Hines, publisher, www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com

Ever since increasing numbers of U.S. citizens started turning to legitimate pharmacies from outside the United States to purchase safe, affordable prescriptions via mail order and the Internet nearly seven years ago, the major charges against their use by those who fear such sales will lead to lower prescription medicine prices in this country have been based on trumped-up charges of legitimacy, safety and whether or not the prescriptions being purchased were counterfeit.

These charges have taken a variety of forms over the years, as ‘spokespersons’ for the pharmaceutical industry joined in a chorus of false charges about safety and efficacy. It was—and remains—a clumsy attempt by the pharmaceutical industry, to confuse the American public in an attempt to scare it away from what was its only opportunity to purchase safe, affordable and vital prescription medicines.

Backed by a seemingly unlimited bankroll, the pharmaceutical industry had no trouble in finding persons and ‘groups’ ready to engage in such scare tactics, ranging from college professors who raised the specter of counterfeit medicines being used to fund terrorist tactics ; to ‘Grandma’ Green, who toured the country in a John Madden-type bus talking about the dangers of Canadian pharmacies courtesy of funding from a misnamed ‘senior’ group which, some have charged, lacked any senior membership; to even media that used misstatements and stories lacking any basis in facts under the cover of claimed ‘investigative reporting.’

It did not matter to those making the charges that the prescriptions being purchased by countless numbers of Americans were in fact medicines manufactured by the pharmaceutical companies that were ironically claiming their own medicines were unsafe. It did not matter that the pharmacies supplying the prescriptions were subject to oversight and standards that met or exceeded those of the United States. It did not matter that our country’s Food and Drug Administration itself had stated that individual American citizens could purchase medical devices or prescription medicines from other countries if they were not available in this country. It did not matter that many argued that if a medicine was not affordable, it was not available in this country. It did not matter that the U.S. Congress has three times passed legislation to facilitate access to medicines from outside the U.S, only to watch as the pharmaceutical industry got the payback for its extensive political contributions and lobbying efforts with ‘poison pill’ amendments that effectively negated the will and intent of the U.S. Congress to the detriment of the American public it had been elected to serve.

Now, a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has clearly identified characteristics of bogus pharmacies. In so doing, it has laid out the differences between bogus pharmacies and legitimate, licensed and registered pharmacies in other countries. These important guidelines can help the public—and hopefully the media and policy-makers—put an end to the attempts at confusion and misdirection.


Here are some of the major points from the report followed by a description of the difference on each point between bogus pharmacies and legitimate ones from outside the U.S.:

• Bad Meds: Of the Web sites advertising or selling controlled prescription drugs, like OxyContin and Valium, Xanax and Vicodin, and Ritalin and Adderall, in the past year, 85 percent of Web sites selling such drugs do not require a prescription

Legitimate Pharmacy: No legitimate mail-order pharmacy from outside the U.S. advertises or sells controlled prescription drugs. No legitimate mail-order pharmacy will sell any medicine without a prescription from a physician.

• Bad Meds: The report found sites selling online "medical consultations" which enable Internet users to get controlled drugs online without a proper prescription.

Legitimate Pharmacy: No legitimate mail-order pharmacy from outside the U.S. will engage in schemes that remove the requirement that all medicines sold must have a prescription from the client’s doctor.

• Bad Meds: Of the few sites that require prescriptions, half permit the
Prescription to be faxed, allowing significant opportunity for fraud.

Legitimate Pharmacy: All legitimate pharmacies and services verify the validity of the prescription.

• Bad Meds: There are no controls blocking access to these sites by children and teens.

Legitimate Pharmacy: There would be virtually no chance of a teen or child to order from a mail-order, Internet-based pharmacy outside the U.S. because in addition to the oversight of authorities in its own country, almost all mail-order pharmacies have instituted rigorous controls of their own. Add to this the requirements that all client orders have a physician-ordered prescription, and the possibility of teens or children ordering medicines of any type from legitimate, professional sources are virtually nil.

The report notes that “last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), held hearings on "’The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008’ to control Internet trafficking of controlled prescription drugs which was introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL). The Senate passed the bill in April of 2008. The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the topic last month.”

It is important to note that according to highly placed sources of Rx for American Health, the Bill in no way was intended by the sponsors or those who voted for it to be a reflection upon the benefit of legitimate on-line, mail-order pharmacies and related services, such as provided by the Dorgan-Snowe bill.

It is obvious that it is time to end this subterfuge about the safety and efficacy of prescription medicines from such pharmacies and to deal with the facts.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Will the FDA ‘farm out’ its responsibility to monitor the safety of imported pharmaceutical ingredients

(From news wire sources): U.S. health officials are pushing a plan to allow outside inspectors to monitor the safety of imported pharmaceutical ingredients, but a similar program to inspect foreign-made medical devices has largely floundered….On Monday, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach requested an extra $275 million for the agency's 2009 budget, in part to allow quicker entry for imports certified by private parties. He also called on Congress to allow the FDA to more broadly use inspections done by independent, third parties.
The Bush Administration is continuing its push for privatization of another governmental responsibility. This time it’s the support of funding ‘private inspectors’ outside the FDA system to monitor the safety of imported pharmaceutical ingredients.
Ironically, the plan is presented as a ‘solution’ to the problems of the pharmaceutical industry to adequately meet its obligations to ensure the safety and efficacy of ingredients used in the manufacture of its products.
The ‘privatization’ of the FDA responsibilities to make sure pharma meets its obligations seems to be designed to relieve the pharmaceutical industry from the consequences of its failure. And, even more ironically, this is a ‘bail-out’ of an industry that has waged a vicious campaign against access to safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies outside the United States on the grounds that there could be no guarantee of the ‘safety’ of the medicines being sold, nor the legitimacy of the pharmacies supplying the products even though they were subject to oversight and regulations that met and even exceeded those of the U.S.
Added to this is the fact that many of the Internet-based pharmacies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers had taken extraordinary steps to provide additional inspections, protections and quality controls, all with the goal of even greater safety.
The pharmaceutical industry and its mouthpiece group PhRma was well aware of this. Yet, all the while that it was deliberately lowering its standards or turning to cheaper materials thereby endangering the lives of countless Americans, all in the name of reducing costs (but not passing along the savings to the American consumer), it continued its attacks on legitimate professional businesses that offer real price relief for Americans with no sacrifice in safety or efficacy.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has always said: “Show me the dead Canadians” when responding to the claims of pharma about ‘bogus pharmacies’ or ‘counterfeit drugs.’
The actions of pharma reflect what has really been bogus—the hypocracy of an industry reaping excessive profits, neglecting the safety of Americans and then claiming that it is protecting Americans by continuing to restrict the ability of U.S. citizens to enjoy the health benefits of affordable medicines.
Hopefully, there is a new appreciation of the facts among policy-makers. Senator Sherod Brown (D-OH) has taken a bold step—a long-overdue one, suggesting that it might be time for an investigation of the practice of pharma to admit that it turned away from its responsibilities to the American public, but used the ‘Tar Baby’ technique of attacking legitimate licensed pharmacies .

It is time for the public and policy makers to join Senator Brown in demanding answers to a number of questions. That includes those in the media, and organizations and others who have failed to meet basic standards of truthfulness and engaged in unwarranted attacks upon businesses and organizations that have worked so hard to provide a solution to problems caused by the predatory pricing of pharma. They should be called out.
Finally, it is time for the FDA to answer a basic question: If it can support privatization or faming out its duties to inspect and monitor pharmaceutical ingredients, why then can it not consider the proven success of the monitoring and oversight of those companies that have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of prescription medicines with programs that they and others have implemented? Such action can provide the basis for helping the public in determining what is bogus and what is not by empowering citizens with knowledge, not sensational or ill-founded charges.

Former Deputy Mayor of Muncie named to Governmental Liaison post by leading International Pharmacy Benefits Manager

Muncie (Special)— Phyllis J. Amburn, the former Deputy Mayor of Muncie, IN , has been named Governmental Liaison/Indiana for CanaRx Services Inc., a leading international Pharmacy Benefits Manager.

In making the announcement, G. Anthony Howard, President and CEO of CanaRx, cites Ms. Amburn’s municipal and private sector experience as a positive addition to the Company.


Ms. Amburn’s contributions to management and solutions in areas of labor relations, personnel, health care, budgets and many special projects will benefit her in this new position with CanaRx. Ms. Amburn obtained a Masters Degree in Executive Development for Public Service from Ball State University and is a native Hoosier.

“Ms. Amburn’s leadership and vision in the establishment, launch and administration of ‘MuncieMeds’ was crucial to its success for both the city and employees,” says Howard.

“This employee-sponsored voluntary program utilizes CanaRx to supply international prescription medications to city employees, their dependents and eligible retirees, who elect to participate.

"Through CanaRx, ’MuncieMeds’ participants pay zero co-payments and the city has realized well over $1 million in savings since plan inception.”

“Underfunded strained budgets are one of the biggest concerns for local governments,” says Ms. Amburn.

“I have witnessed first-hand the financial benefits provided through CanaRx and I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with local governments throughout Indiana. Cutting services and laying off employees are not the only solutions.” .

“CanaRx programs provide safe affordable international prescription medications to over 100 groups including six municipalities and county governments within the state of Indiana,” says Howard. “We are proud to welcome Phyllis J. Amburn to our team"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Senator Brown gets to point...drug companies use cheaper foreign, unsafe materials to save money

In what is a delightful piece of irony, United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has taken action that has to cause anyone who has followed the campaign of false charges, misdirection and scare tactics by pharma and its allies against access by Americans to safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies outside the United States to recognize that pharma has been caught in a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

For years, proponents of such access have battled to arm the American public with the facts--that pharmacies in other countries must meet rigid standards that meet and often exceed those of the oversight in the U.S. Added to this is the fact that these reputable pharmacies and services exhibit the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.

Still, in an attempt to protect its predatory pricing practices, the pharmaceutical industry has conducted a vicious campaign enlisting allies as diverse as a bus-riding Grandma Green who has toured the country in a John Madden-style bus to spread the pharma gospel of fear and mis-statements by college professors such as Dr. Marv Shepherd, who heads up something called the Pharmacoeconomic Studies Center at the University of Texas, but who resorts to subterfuge when called out about their pharma industry links and support, building a speaking career talking about 'counterfeit' medicines via the Internet.

Added to this is the disregard for traditional journalistic standards of media that misuse standards of free speech, hiding behind their right to make inaccurate charges, and then claim a special privilege of protection from having to report factually and accurately. One of the more recent examples is the totally false charges made by an investigative team of WISH-TV in Indianapolis against CanaRx Services, Inc., a leading international pharmacy benefits manager based in Canada. Even though CanaRx has created additional oversight practices to guarantee the safety and efficacy of prescription medicines purchased through voluntary programs with employees of local governments and has generated millions of dollars in savings for hard-pressed local governments, an 'investigative' reporter made unfounded charges of 'counterfeit drugs' in her report. When faced with demands--even the opportunity--to rectify its mistake and to correct a statement that the reporter had attempted to give CanaRx the opportunity to respond, the station instead chose to hide behind Indiana law designed supposedly to promote free discussion and debate, rather than meeting its resposibility to set the record straight.

And therein lies the basis of what makes Senator Brown's letter to Pfizer so special. It is the first time that anyone has called out the web that pharma has spun. The Senator is calling for an investigation based on earlier Pfizer testimony that it outsources 17 percent of its pharmaceutical manufacturing and acknowledgement by the FDA of the pharma trend of outsourcing to avoid drug safety regulations.

What a spectacle! Pfizer, the largest drug company in the world that has spent untold millions of dollars to prevent Americans from purchasing prescription medicines claiming concerns about safety, is using substandard ingredients to avoid oversight. Remember, we're not talking about just the manufacturing of the majority of prescription medicnes outside the U.S. (Lipitor is from Ireland,, for example), but a conscious decision by Pfizer--and others--to cut corners with no regard for the safety and efficacy of its products.

There's an old saying that when you point a finger at someone, you have three pointing back at yourself. Pfizer proves that it's still true.

Let's hope Senator Brown's call for an investigation is heeded. As part of that process, it would be appropriate to expand the scope to look at the pattern of abuse of the truth by pharma and its allies against the legitimate operations of a host of legitimate pharmacies and businesses that have dedicated themselves to providing Amerians with access to safe, affordable prescription medicines only to be victimized by reckless and false charges about their adherence to the highest standards of safety, all the while providing vast numbers of individual Americans, groups and local governments relief from the highest drug prices in the world.

To read Senator Brown's letter, click here.
Posted by Daniel Hines, publisher, TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com

Monday, May 19, 2008

The reason for Rx for American Health

America is in a healthcare crisis. Ironically, at a time when millions upon millions of Americans lack medical insurance, when children are the targets of budgetary cuts and lack healthcare and medicines, when pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars in profits, while the elderly are once again facing a health maintenance crisis because of the rising costs of medicines, while families lack access to medical care, and our national, state budgets and local budgets are facing the reduction and loss of the basic responsibilities of government, relief is possible with a very simple concept--allowing U.S. citizens access to prescription medicines from licensed, registered, reputable pharmacies outside the U.S.
In a unique example of 'double-speak', this relief has been labeled 'reimportation', giving the mistaken impression that the prescription medicines are somehow being manufactured in this country, exported and sent back to the United States.
Actually, the vast majority of prescription medicines are manufactured outside the United States and sold the consumers in this country at the highest prices for prescription medicines in the world.
Why should this be? Because the pharmaceutical manufacturers who spend more on advertising, marketing and lobbying than on research and development are more concerned with profits than the health of Americans.
It is time for this to change. That is why Rx for American Health will present the facts about the benefits of access to safe, affordable prescriptions, contrasting that with the tremendous cost to the public health, the public well-being, and the burden of the cost of high-priced prescription medicines to budgets at the local, state and Federal levels.
We will do this by 'calling out' the practices of the pharmaceutical industry as it makes moves on a number of fronts--misstatements, predatory business practices, undermining the democratic process with its millions of dollars of expenditures to influence policy-makers to act in its behalf at the expense of the public well-being.
Rx for American Health will reflect opinions from a number of sources, but always its goal will be to create the climate to finally bring prescription medicine price relief to beleaguered Americans who might otherwise be denied the benefits that can be provided by a regimen of access to safe, affordable prescription medicines. We will illustrate the savings as well as the health benefits that are possible--savings that can relieve the burden on strained budgets our local, state and Federal governments.
All of these illustrate the core of our conviction that such access must be considered as a part of the totality of the healthcare crisis facing the United States, and the providing of such access to safe, affordable prescription medicines must be a part of any plans for comprehensive medical reform in the United States.
Daniel Hines, Publisher, TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com and BoomersNewsOnline.com