21st June 01:15
Do Canadians get the drugs they need? (weight hypoglycemia)
October 24, 2003, 9:53 a.m.
Canada’s Drug Mythology
Labyrinth up north.
By Sally C. Pipes
Consider what drove New Brunswick's Bill and Mary Cooper (names changed to
protect privacy) to head south to the U.S. for treatment of their Type II
Diabetes. Bill discovered Glucophage XR was the most-effective drug, but it
wasn't available under his provincial health plan. Mary, his wife, was doing
well on Avandia. But when she switched from private pay to the provincial
health plan, she was forced to start taking older medications even though
they posed a risk of hypoglycemia and weight gain of 10 to 15 pounds.
The switch saved New Brunswick $.90 a day. The costs to Bill and Mary and
countless other Canadians — in inconvenience and in health complications —
are much higher indeed.
Those for hopping buses to Canada for discount drugs ought to talk to
patients like Bill and Mary. They would discover that the system that
produces cheap Zocor comes with a severe side effect: It prevents Canadians
from taking better, modern drugs.
The problem cuts across diseases. "It takes twice as long to get AIDS drugs
approved in Canada," says Durhane Wong-Rieger, a prominent Canadian patient
advocate. "And these are high-priority drugs."
AIDS medication Reyataz, available in the U.S., hasn't even begun the
approval process in Canada. Pegasus, a drug that treats Hepatitis C, has
been approved in the U.S. for three years, where it's already available in a
new and improved version. Canadians, however, still don't have access to the
— Sally C. Pipes, a Canadian who lives in the U.S., is president & CEO of
the California-based Pacific Research Institute.
[End of excerpt]
Just a reminder that "cheaper" always comes with a price. (Which is NOT to
say that every new - often greatly over-priced and not significantly better
than what we already have - drug should be covered.)