Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I certainly agree with you that US citizens (aren't I being responsible by not refering to my fellow countrymen as "Americans") buying Canadian drugs is not the answer to our healthcare problem. With such a small population compared to the US, Canada can't possibly buy enough prescription drugs to support the medicine habit of the US. Also, it's kind of intellectually stupid to have US citizens buying drugs over the internet from another country thousands of miles away.

However, barring a freeze on internet sales by the Canadian government (which I doubt would happen), this problem isn't going away. Canada, by virtue of being nice and being near, has been dragged into the US's problems, and it's not getting out until we figure out what we want to do with our healthcare system.

Actually, if the US allowed Medicare to buy drugs either from Canada, or to negotiate prices here in the US, the problem might go away a bit. Big Pharma is able to keep costs low in Canada and Europe because they charge so much in the US. If they knew they couldn't do that anymore, then there would have to be a major reevaluation of pricing. Prices would go down in the US, and up a bit everywhere else.

Of course, for that to happen, W and the Republicans in congress would have to be out of power, so there might be some other concurrent restructurngs of the pharmaceutical industry, which would lower prices across the board. We might want to evaluate how public NIH research dollars go to subsidize for-profit companies' drugs, for instance. The biggest possible change, though, would be to shift the emphasis of our healthcare system from private based post-diagnosis treatment to public based pre-diagnosis prevention. In that system, the prescription drugs that we worry about now, would be a minor side issue, since people would be less likely to have diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and all the related chronic conditions which necessitate long term prescription drug use.


At 3:06 PM, Blogger maki-girl said...

I know -- the problem is not going away, it's getting worse! Apparently Americans are now storming the Canadian borders for flu shots!

I think shifting the healthcare emphasis to prevention rather than treatment is just downright silly hoagie/courier-boy ---> no one will ever get rich preventing illnesses!!


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