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Originally published October 4 2006

U.S. government announces it will stop illegal seizures of prescription drugs from Canada

by Jessica Fraser

(NaturalNews) The U.S. government announced yesterday that it will no longer seize small shipments of illegal Canadian pharmaceuticals at the border, which overturns months of aggressive seizures that have resulted in 40,000 confiscations nationwide.

Though it is still illegal to import pharmaceuticals from Canada or other countries, the government says it is backing off strict enforcements that have irritated elderly consumers buying cheaper Canadian drugs. However, the Bush administration still claims that importing Canadian drugs is dangerous because the medicines could be inferior or counterfeit.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency spokeswoman Lynn Hollinger said the shift in policy does not mean that Canadian drugs are safe, but that the agency has simply decided to refocus its resources. "We are still very committed to protecting the American public from these medications," Hollinger said.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and other members of Congress have urged the government for years to allow Americans to bring small amounts of prescriptions across the border without having them seized. Tuesday's announcement went a step further in allowing Americans to order their medications through the mail without fear of government seizure.

Gord Haugh of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association called the U.S. government seizures "a huge problem" and said, "If (the seizures) indeed stop, that's wonderful news." Roughly 2 million Americans buy prescription drugs from Canada, where prices are 30 to 50 percent lower than the same drugs in the United States. According to Haugh, U.S. demand for Canadian drugs has declined by about $300 million this year.

Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said that although Americans can benefit from looser border restrictions, the government has done nothing to solve the problem of high-priced American drugs.

"If Congress and the Bush administration were serious about lowering prescription drug costs, they would adopt policies that allow American people to buy cheaper drugs at the stores in their own neighborhoods," Flanagan said. "We certainly think people should have the option of buying from Canada, but the point is they shouldn't have to."

Pharmaceutical industry critic Mike Adams said the FDA and U.S. Customs have participated for years in a "protection racket" to boost sales of U.S. pharmaceuticals by illegally confiscating medications from price-conscious Americans at the border.

"The tactics used by the FDA to protect the profits of drug companies resemble those of the mafia," said Adams. "They include armed raids on vitamin shops, seizures of imported nutritional products, censorship of scientific facts about natural medicine and even a search of a bus-load of senior citizens returning from Canada to buy discounted prescription drugs."


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