[FoRK] Goddamn unsafe Canadian drugs... uh wait.. its flu season

Owen Byrne owen at permafrost.net
Fri Oct 15 09:57:06 PDT 2004

Ironic is not the word I would use.


> Bush's position on Canadian flu shots vs. prescription drugs called 
> 'ironic'
> Helen Branswell
> Canadian Press
> Friday, October 15, 2004
> President George W. Bush spoke of importing Canadian flu vaccine 
> during Wednesday's election debate. (AP /Matt York)
> TORONTO (CP) - When President George W. Bush spoke of importing 
> Canadian flu vaccine during Wednesday's election debate, many in the 
> U.S. public health community were struck by the irony of an 
> administration that slams the door on cheaper Canadian drugs, but 
> looks north for help with an embarrassing vaccine shortage.
> "It seemed ironic to many of us who were watching that the president 
> had kind of disparaged the importation of Canadian (prescription) 
> drugs but seemed to be interested in exploring the possibility of 
> importing Canadian vaccine," Dr. William Schaffner, a member of the 
> U.S. advisory committee on immunization practices, said in an 
> interview Thursday.
> Schaffner and others took as hopeful Bush's comment that the 
> administration was looking into the possibility of purchasing flu 
> shots from Canada's major influenza vaccine manufacturer, ID 
> Biomedical of Vancouver.
> The company has between one million and 1.5 million surplus doses it 
> has offered to sell to American authorities who have been scrambling 
> since vaccine giant Chiron Corp. revealed it could not provide the up 
> to 48 million doses it had contracted to supply to the U.S. market.
> Their hopes may have been dampened later in the day, though, when 
> Tommy Thompson, the U.S. secretary of health, said it was doubtful 
> that vaccine from producers not currently licensed in the United 
> States could be imported to help with this year's massive shortage.
> "It doesn't look promising," Thompson said in Washington.
> The U.S. Food and Drug Administration would not comment on any talks 
> it might be having with ID Biomedical.
> "FDA is not allowed to disclose information about our discussions with 
> companies about such matters," spokeswoman Lenore Gelb said in an 
> e-mailed response to an interview request.
> But an ID Biomedical executive confirmed the FDA hasn't asked to see 
> safety data for the vaccine. Any serious discussions on licensing the 
> vaccine would require the sharing of such information.
> "Frankly, we are not there yet. We are really in the process of 
> offering what we could offer," said Michele Roy, director of corporate 
> communications.
> Still, Bush's words gave Schaffner and others cause for hope as they 
> try to cope with the nightmare of facing flu season with half the 
> needed doses of vaccine.
> "It gives us some guarded optimism that perhaps some vaccine can be 
> imported, which is something that we would strongly support," said 
> Schaffner, chair of the department of preventive medicine at 
> Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
> "The shortage, of course, has stimulated a great desire to receive 
> vaccine. And so any additional vaccine would be a little bit of help. 
> It won't be a total solution by any means, but anything helps."
> If Schaffner and his friends in public health were chuckling over the 
> apparent contradiction in U.S. policy towards drug imports from 
> Canada, others weren't amused.
> "They've been disparaging the Canadian drug system, saying how it's a 
> buyer beware situation, completely unsafe, can't guarantee the 
> safety," said David MacKay, executive director of the Canadian 
> International Pharmacy Association. "Then the moment that they need to 
> go to Canada to find our flu vaccines, all of a sudden, magically, 
> things are safe."
> The association represents Internet pharmacies that have earned the 
> ire of the U.S. administration by shipping cheaper Canadian 
> prescription drugs to American consumers.
> "It's absolutely ironic and ludicrous to think that (U.S. regulators) 
> can assure safety for flu vaccines . . . but they won't do it for 
> life-saving Lipitor (a cholesterol-lowering statin) as well," MacKay 
> said.
> "What's the difference between flu vaccine and Lipitor?"

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