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SECOND IN A NEW SERIES

It's Not Nice to
Screw with Grandma

by Frank Kaiser
Today I got two. Yesterday nine. The day before? Five. Every day I get calls and e-mails from seniors concerned that buying drugs in Canada may either poison them or put them behind bars.

The Federal Drug Administration is at war with America. And the terror these seniors feel is that agency's primary weapon.

Once proud, today's FDA is little more than a bootlick of the pharmaceutical industry. Those folks who 40 years ago saved us from the curse of Thalidomide now spend millions tarring our northern neighbors with lies cast to frighten us from buying our drugs in Canada, a place where we can actually afford them.

Result? Millions of American do without lifesaving medicine they could well afford north of the border. Especially seniors. Their "old fashioned" values proscribe what everyone calls "illegal imports," even though FDA Advisory HFC-170 actually allows drug importation for personal use.

But instead of apprising us of this, the agency scares the hell out of us:

  • A current ad shows an oversized pill about to be pitched onto a roulette wheel. What at first appears to be a warning against drug abuse, turns out to be an FDA warning against importing prescription drugs from Canada. "It's a gamble you don't want to take." Another asks, "Think it's safe buying medicine from outside the United States? Think again."

  • FDA's Website warns of "counterfeit, mislabeled, untested" substances, for which it's "…not worth risking your health."

  • Their most recent media campaign shouted, "FDA Import Blitz Exams Reveal Potentially Dangerous Illegally Imported Drug Shipments." Its generalities, innuendo, and just plain cock-and-bull make Canada sound like some sleazy Third World country smuggling contagions across the border. [See "Anatomy of a Billion Dollar Lie" at http://www.suddenlysenior.com/fdapressrelease.html.]

Truth is, even though over a million Americans now buy drugs from Canadian pharmacies, the FDA has yet to identify a single patient harmed by the trade.

Most experts agree that Health Canada, which regulates drugs up there, is more rigorous than the FDA. Example: There's no such thing as "Fast Track" approval in Canada. And Canadian drug stores must always have a Canadian physician review any prescription coming from the US.

7 of 11 FDA Commissioners Tainted

I firmly believe there is no safer place to buy pharmaceuticals than from a registered Canadian drug store. Yet the FDA, at the behest of the thuggish and greedy pharmaceutical giants, obstructs this trade, even at the risk of sullying its reputation.

The fact that seven of the 11 FDA commissioners have strong financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry may have something to do with this. A cynical "you scratch mine, I'll scratch yours" policy puts at least four former FDA commissioners on drug companies' payrolls.

And the pharmaceutical industry's millions in legal bribes to the president's election campaigns probably haven't hurt either.

In fact, the $26+ million Big Pharma paid Congress in 2002* corrupted the entire government. That money bought drug companies the ability to set whatever price they ask from Medicare — Congress made negotiating illegal in the new drug bill. It killed legislation to allow pharmacists, wholesalers and distributors to reimport FDA-approved drugs from other countries at lower prices. And it has further corrupted the FDA itself.

"The free market is supreme," this administration says, "except when it clips a nickel from a benefactor's profits."

Grandma Suffers for Pharma's Price Supports

With the pharmaceutical industries' profit now 372 percent higher than the average Fortune 500 company, why should they get price supports? Especially at the expense of Grandma and Grandpa?

Last year, Big Pharma spent a huge $6 billion on advertising. Far more than ever before. Yet the current FDA sent just 24 citations to drug makers whose ads were false or misleading, a 75 percent drop from 1999 and 2000. When companies were cited, it took an average of six months for the FDA to act, during which time the misleading ads continued to misinform Americans.

Meanwhile, the FDA further intimidates US citizens by asking credit card and package-delivery companies for names of Americans buying from Canadian pharmacies.

They ought to be ashamed! Such bullying is absolutely un-American. FDA might as well stand for Falsehoods, Despotic, and Avarice.

To reward FDA head, Mark McClellan, President Bush now is considering moving him to run Medicare. God help us!

Someone ought to sue. All of us. It worked against those other bullies and liars, indeed killers, at the tobacco industry. Is Big Pharma so different?

Meanwhile, get mad. Let everyone know. Together, we can and will bring them down.

Let's do it for Grandma.

*See what your Congressman got paid by Big Pharma at http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/

© 2004 — Frank Kaiser/Kaiser Communications Inc.


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