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Maine Becomes First State to Allow Prescription Drug Purchases From Abroad

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Maine has become the first state to allow prescription drugs to be purchased abroad, CBS News reports.

In September 2012 Maine’s attorney general halted a partnership between Portland, Maine and a Canadian prescription provider, CanaRx, which sold medications from Canadian pharmacies at a lower cost than U.S. pharmacies. The program was shut down because of pressure from drug companies, according to the article.

Local legislators passed a law reinstating the program this month to help deal with the rising cost of health care. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said the law “allows us to re-institute a program that has been very successful in the city…Cities across the country are looking at ways to reduce health care costs. One of the most significant cost drivers within health care is the cost of pharmaceutical or prescription drugs.” Brennan noted ordering drugs from Canada saved Portland employees more than $3 million from 2004 to 2012.

Pharmaceutical companies are suing Maine over the new law, arguing it “puts Maine residents at risk of serious harm.” Critics of the law point out that drugs imported from Canada may have been produced in another country with few safety regulations. They say buyers could be purchasing drugs that are counterfeit or dangerous.

1 Response to this article

  1. Avatar of J
    J / October 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Though I am not surprised by the approval of another poorly “thought out” decision in Maine, it is of tremendous concern.
    1) Maine has the highest suicide rate in the Northeast (CDC)
    2) US Suicide rates among both men and women aged 35–64 years increased substantially from 1999 and 2010 , and increases … by race/ethnicity, were highest and statistically significant only among whites and American Indian/Alaska Natives: (Note Bangor and Portland Maine (5th and 11th, respectively) rank among the “whitest” in the US: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/09/10/news/state/maine-slowly-gaining-cultural-diversity-but-3-largest-cities-still-some-of-the-whitest-in-the-us/)
    4) Among possible contributing factors for the rise in suicide rates among middle-aged adults … a rise in intentional overdoses associated with the increase in availability of prescription opioids (1,2).
    ( References for #2-4 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6217a1.htm)
    5) While Maine apparently has the 14th lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the country (http://healthyamericans.org/reports/drugabuse2013/release.php?stateid=ME), this does not account for substances abusers who die from complications related to their abuse, including death by suicide
    5) While overdose “deaths” may be “low” in Maine, the state has such devastatingly high rates of substance abuse/addiction and related problems the NY Times did a huge spread on it this summer: http://www.telegram.com/article/20130719/NEWS/307199720/1116/mobile&TEMPLATE=MOBILE

    My experience of the Maine system is limited and restricted to the greater Portland area. However, it seems disorganized is rampant, unification lacking and bureaucracy engrained to such an extent that the health of patients, families, communities and well meaning providers desperately trying to help those in need is compromised.

    Effective screening and preventative intervention leads to better oversight, better monitoring, better treatment and better health outcomes, all of which leads reduce cost and ensures both longevity of importantly QoL.

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