Andrew Strempler was arrested in Florida last week, yet very few people outside of Canada know who he is. Strempler was one of the first Canadians that dared offer cheaper drugs to Americans by operating a cross-border online pharmacy. Presently Andrew is facing charges in Miami related to the sale of foreign and counterfeit medicine, according to Huffington Post.
Strempler was the founder of the online drug dispensary RxNorth.com and then sold it to competitor CanadaDrugs.com in January of 2008. The 38-year-old online pharmaceutical pioneer appeared in Miami federal court last Thursday and faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the charges against him.
The Canadian pharmacist could be also forced to pay $95-million dollars of what the USA FDA alleges are the proceeds from his crime.
The FDA's problem is that they claim most of the Canadian drugs came from other countries. Strempler responded that “it was just one more ploy to prevent cash strapped Americans from getting cheaper drugs outside the US”.
So who is actually helping who?
Each morning when one of the 49% of Americans who are on some sort of prescription plan open their medicine cabinet, the last thing they think about is where it was made. The American public has no idea that 40% of all drugs they use actually come from overseas, and approximately 80% of the active ingredients used to make these drugs come from foreign countries like Thailand, China and India.
No matter how hard the FDA argues, there really isn’t any difference between Canadian drugs and those sold in the US when it comes to quality. Surprisingly, some of the drugs sold in Canada are manufactured and shipped from the US and later repacked for the Canadian population. In Canada it's mandatory that each prescription has an expiry date, unlike the US where in some states, that information isn't required by drugstores to be disclosed.
Let's face it Canadian drugs are cheaper than those of our neighbour south-of the-border because the Canadian government regulates them and even puts a ceiling on the amount the pharmacies can charge for them. The heads of the land also monitor the wholesale prices so all Canadians can afford medication. New drugs are tested for effectiveness as compared to original ones and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario also have their own restrictions on the use of new and expensive medication.
There are lower liability costs in Canadian pharmaceutical companies because Canadians are not litigious by nature and awards and damages are lower and have ceilings. Canadian online pharmacies require a prescription and are dispensed with genuine drugs that are safe and effective from licensed pharmacists. The drugs are cheaper simply because they are not being controlled by huge health-care and pharmaceutical companies.
Wonder how large the differences are?
Diovan for High Blood Pressure
Lipitor (atorvastatin) to lower cholesterol
Most people have no idea that the popular drug Lipitor is actually made in the Dominican Republic under FDA regulations, not manufactured in the US. The generic version is now being made in India.
On the CBC News online site a former pharmacist had an interesting story that he posted in the comments section. The gentleman was a former employee of a Canadian internet pharmacy that was providing low cost drugs to American seniors who were fed up paying 2-3 times more, unlike Canadian retirees.
His employer purchased their drugs from the very same wholesalers that the FDA-accused Strempler and Canadian drugstore chains buy them from. In 2006 the FDA declared that some of their shipments to the U.S. were illegal because the labeling was done in French and English, which is mandatory in Canada. They also decreed that it did not contain a FDA number but it did have the Canadian DIN on it, which is Canada's Drug Identification numbers. In reality it had nothing to do with the quality of the drugs; just another loophole to stop cross-border business.
He also wrote that any Canadian drugstore going over their Pfizer drug quotas allegedly had their business put on hold until they could prove that none of their products were being exported to the US. This was the exact same time that the FDA began to have issues with Mr. Strempler in 2006. The commenter ended by saying that Mr. Strempler was honest and dedicated to his patients and that his only fault was success and going up against the monopoly of the pharmaceutical monsters.
After continued pressure from both sides of the border Strempler agreed to the removal of his name on the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association registry. Not happy with the proceedings he began operating in a free-trade zone in Curacao, located in the Caribbean. Strempler was finally deported from Panama this week, taken into custody by U.S Marshals and flown to Miami. Of course the FDA will not comment on the arrest but warned the public to be careful with online drug purchasing.
Consumers are told they should not purchase Canadian, or drugs from overseas because they aren't as safe as the American made, yet most ingredients are imported. The idea that Canadians are buying unsafe drugs in their pharmacies is just too ludicrous to discuss. According to Consumer reports 48% of Americans cut health care costs by either declining doctor's visits, tests or ordering drugs online. Seeing that is an increase of 9% since 2010 why are the health care giants bent on keeping prices for the U.S. customer artificially high?
Americans are dying because they cannot afford their life-saving drugs so how dare a foreign country like Canada give Americans a break on their prescription drugs. Find me anyone in public office that does not have good insurance plan that covers their prescription drug needs, unlike much of the long suffering American public.
After I wrote this I sent the draft to two of my American friends. One said it was interesting and the other said he knew most of the content. This made me angry, because if you understand what is going on and are interested- where is the outrage? It is common knowledge that Medicare Part D isn't working and the American public has to make important choices when it comes to getting their prescriptions filled.
What can be said with certainty is that these issues would not happen if Americans had been given a proper health care program. Were they to see "health care as a public service, instead of a commodity to be bought and sold for profit", as I keep reading, then there would be no desire to buy drugs online from another country or Mr. Strempler.
Part 3 of Canadian News Can be Interesting!
Photograph by: FRED GREENSLADE , Winnipeg Free Press
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