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Read Making a Killing

home / healthcare / in the media

Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
Feb 18, 2004

by MIKE STOBBE, STAFF WRITER

N.C. BOARD TARGETS CANADIAN DRUGS;

COMPANY TOLD TO STOP ITS PRESCRIPTION SERVICE
The N.C. Board of Pharmacy is trying to shutter the last storefront Canadian prescription service in the Charlotte area.

The board last week ordered Canada Connection to stop helping patients place orders with Canadian pharmacies. The Pineville business, which opened in September, provides customers with forms and a fax machine for buying the drugs.

Jan Crimin, who owns Canada Connection with her husband, said they don't plan to shut down just yet. Instead, they're writing the board a letter she hopes will clarify that their business is not breaking the law.

But she also noted others who fought the board have failed.

With the help of a court order, the board has shut down six N.C. businesses - including Gastonia's Discount Drugs of Canada, which closed last summer, and Concord's Canada Drug Outlet, which closed last week.

"Believe me, I want to fight them But I also know they have a lot more power and a lot more money than I have," Crimin said.

She said that in addition to the state pharmacy board, she was referring to federal regulators, pharmaceutical manufacturers and other companies that stand to lose money from consumers buying Canadian drugs.

The importation and re-importation of drugs is a heated national issue. Drug companies and federal officials increasingly have tried to halt the practice, saying it's illegal and potentially unsafe. Consumer advocates say Canadian drugs are safe and inexpensive, and say regulation is driven by profit-minded U.S. businesses.

"Pharmacists lose business when people in North Carolina use mail-order and Internet services to buy drugs," said Jerry Flanagan, spokesman for the California-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

The N.C. pharmacy board is a six-member panel, five of them pharmacists. The board licenses pharmacists and issues pharmacy permits to businesses in and outside North Carolina. No Canadian pharmacies have applied for a permit, said David Work, the board's executive director.

"The Board acted to protect North Carolina consumers from prescription services and drugs which have not met United States standards," said board President Stan Haywood in a statement last week.

In addition to the Pineville business, the board ordered businesses in Apex, Asheboro and Wilmington to stop Canadian prescription-related activities.

The board's order alleges Canada Connection receives prescriptions orders for filling by Canadian pharmacies.

Jan Crimin said her business provides customers with order forms and information on how to buy medications from Canada. They also allow customers to use their fax machine. But they don't handle prescriptions or place purchase orders themselves, she said.

"They should have no jurisdiction over my business," Crimin said.

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