Canada is planning to draft new legislation that will ensure Canadians continue to have access to an adequate supply of safe and affordable prescription medicines in the event of potential US legislation sanctioning the bulk importation of drugs from across the border in Canada where they are up to 70% cheaper.

“Our priority must be the health and safety of all Canadians and the strength of our health care system,” health minister, Ujjal Dosanjh said in a statement. “We must be proactive in making sure that the supply of affordable prescription medications remains stable and sufficient to meet the needs of Canadians.”

A series of initiatives will begin with the establishment of a drug supply network, which will provide the country’s regulatory authority, Health Canada, with more comprehensive data on Canada’s prescription drug supply. Other moves include prohibiting the exportation of Canadian drugs if and when necessary, and the introduction of a law that will allow the government to prohibit the bulk export of prescription and other needed drugs when it is deemed necessary to protect the health of Canadians. Canada is also considering strengthening existing regulations to prohibit the sale of drugs to people that have not established a relationship with a doctor.

Importing cheaper medicines into the US is currently illegal, although several of the country’s senators have banded together in a bid to pass legislation that would legalise the move [[10/02/05b]]. Their draft bill, which was unveiled last April [[22/04/04b]], included proposals that would enable individuals to import up to a 90-day supply of a prescription US Food and Drug Administration-approved drug from Canada for their own personal use. However, the FDA has remained a steadfast opponent of the move, saying that the safety of imported drugs cannot be guaranteed, and that it would also open up the door to counterfeiters. Several states have already taken the matter into their own hands, introducing policies to allow the importation of drugs from outside the country [[18/08/04c]], [[26/02/04a]].