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October 29, 2003

Importation of Prescriptions Drugs from Canada will Save New York and New Yorkers Money on Spiraling Drug Costs

NEW YORK, NY -- Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in calling on the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to permit states and cities to import prescription drugs from Canada.  New York City both directly and indirectly spends billions of dollars on drugs costs each; importation will save the City up to $90 million on year on Medicaid drug costs alone.  (HHC) President Dr. Benjamin Chu, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden and Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner Verna Eggelston joined the Mayor and Governor Blagojevich at the press conference at City Hall.
As seniors and consumers struggle to pay for the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, as businesses find their health care costs rising faster than any other expense, and as cities and states search for new ways to save money, the idea of importing prescription drugs, manufactured in full compliance with FDA regulations, from Canada has gained a great deal of support over the past several months. A new report released by Governor Blagojevich on Monday showed that Canadian procedures for distributing and labeling prescription drugs are equally safe to those used here in the United States, and showed that consumers participating in the proposed Illinois plan could save New Yorkers $1,000 each year. 
“The rising costs of prescription drugs is draining our City’s coffers and bankrupting our senior citizens,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “I am proud to join Governor Blagojevich’s petition and there is no reason why cities and states should be denied the right to purchase safe prescription drugs at reasonable prices.  Too many of New York’s seniors are forced to make the terrible choice between food and their prescription medication.”
“We found that consumers in our program could save up to $1,008 per year, and total savings for the State and consumers could reach $91 million.  At a time when our economy continues to struggle, and when cities and states desperately need help, $91 million is hard to pass up.  Perhaps not surprisingly, we also found that importing prescription drugs from Canada is not only safe, in some cases, it’s even safer than purchasing prescription drugs here in the United States.  When you look at the facts, the FDA’s excuse of safety is a red herring,” said Blagojevich.  “I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for joining us in this important fight; having the largest city in our nation behind this effort sends a powerful message to Washington.”
Illinois was the first state to petition the FDA to permit the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, and Blagojevich recently launched an electronic petition drive to help convince the FDA to change their mind.  Bloomberg, looking to help millions of seniors and consumers in New York City afford the ever-rising cost of prescription drugs, urged the FDA to change its position, and urged New Yorkers to sign Blagojevich’s electronic petition.  The petition is available at www.affordabledrugs.il.gov

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