Case in point: the Wall Street Journal reporting that, regardless of which of the remaining three amigos gets elected in November, â€œdrugs from Canadaâ€ is a done deal.
Nope. Hereâ€™s why not:
(1) It wonâ€™t save any money. Letâ€™s not forget the non-partisan CBO study that showed that such policy would reduce our nationâ€™s spending on prescription medicines a whopping 0.1% -- and thatâ€™s not including the millions of dollars the FDA would need to set up a monitoring system.
(2) The drugs being sent to U.S. customers from Canadian internet pharmacies are not â€œthe same drugs Canadians get.â€ That bit of rhetoric is just plain wrong. Canadian internet pharmacies â€“ by their own admission â€“ are sourcing their drugs from the European Union. And while they may say their drugs come from the United Kingdom, letâ€™s not conveniently forget that 20% of all the medicines sold in the UK are parallel imported from other nations in the EU â€“ like Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Lithuania.
And the important political point here is that when Americans are asked if they want drugs from nations other than Canada â€“ the answer is a resounding â€œno thank you.â€
(3) The state experience has been dismal and politically embarrassing. Remember the high profile â€œI-Save-RXâ€program? Over 19 months of operation, a grand total of 3,689 Illinois residents used the program -- which equals approximately .02% of the population. They donâ€™t call him â€œWrong Wayâ€ Rod Blagojevich for nothing.
And what of Minnesota and Governor Tim Pawlentyâ€™s RxConnect program? According to its latest statistics, Minnesota RxConnect fills about 138 prescriptions a month. That's for the whole state. Minnesota population: 5,167,101.
And remember Springfield, MA and â€œthe New Boston Tea Party?â€ Well the city of Springfield is now out of the drugs from Canada business.
(4) National Security concerns. According to a recent report from the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force, a global terrorist ring with ties to Hezbollah, is importing counterfeit drugs into America by way of Canada. They are doing so for profit today - but could just as easily do so for more nefarious and deadly purposes. And legalizing importation would only facilitate such actions.
So while the candidates may opt for â€œdrugs from Canadaâ€ as a useful political talking point â€“ a way to say â€œlook how tough I can be on those bad drug companies. The real issue lies elsewhere.
When it comes to health care reform, thereâ€™s one major policy difference that sets Senator McCain apart from Senators Obama and Clinton â€“ Senator McCain believes in the strengths of a market economy. He sees drug importation as an access issue. The other side sees it as a way to import price controls and a first step towards government-run health care.
Donâ€™t get fooled by the importation rhetoric. Itâ€™s nothing but a side-show. And it ainâ€™t gonna happen. It's more dangerous as a smoke screen.