US citizens hoping to buy prescription drugs from internet sites based in Canada could be banned if plans currently being debated win approval, according to Industry reports.

Reuters claims that Canadian officials are concerned that the current process, under which US prescriptions are reviewed by Canadian doctors and then passed onto wholesalers for dispatch, put increased pressure on the country’s own drug supply. The article notes that the Canadian government is considering forbidding doctors authorising US prescriptions without seeing the patient in person, as well as putting a veto on certain drugs that are widely used within Canada from being exported.

The issue of drug cost in the USA and importation medicines from across the border in Canada where they are as much as 70% cheaper, continues to remain high on the US political agenda. The government, which is against allowing such drug importation, claiming that product safety cannot be guaranteed, has come under fire for siding with the pharmaceutical companies that are in turn accused of being more concerned with profits than patients [[07/04/04c]]. However, some US states have flown in the face of the government and have revealed plans to launch websites that would enable residents to buy medication online from Canada and other countries [[18/08/04c]], [[12/08/04c]], [[04/06/04b]]. At the end of last year, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ drug reimportation task force concluded that the practice was involved with “substantial” safety risks and that overall cost savings would only be small. In addition, it claimed that legalising importation would reduce research and development into new drugs and likely reduce the number of new therapies by as many as 18 new medicines per decade. It also said that drug importation also risked the introduction of government price controls, which it believes hamper the ability to create new medicines, and have slowed patient access in many countries to new medicines.