Canadian Drugs

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About a dozen states, including Alabama, are exploring ways to buy cheap prescription drugs from Canada and make them widely available to Americans, even though importing the medicines is illegal.

Representatives from the states met with five Canadian drug companies at an Atlanta hotel yesterday to hear their pitch on how to sell the drugs safely, and more importantly, get the federal government to sign off on it.

The meeting comes two days after Boston and New Hampshire announced their intention to purchase drugs from Canada.

These states didn't suggest they would make a similar move, buying Canadian drugs for their citizens without government approval. But they want to find ways to convince the Food and Drug Administration to allow more drug importation and eventually make it legal.

The FDA refuses to certify that Canadian drugs are safe, although it has no examples of Canadian drugs causing illness in the U.S.

The Canadian drug companies told state officials they could offer dozens of drugs for as much as 80-percent less than they cost in the United States. Drugs in Canada are significantly cheaper because of government price controls.

The FDA has said it's concerned about the safety of drugs that originate in Canada.