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St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

Hop a train to save on drug costs

September 27, 2004

Fed up with the high price of prescription drugs in the states? Want a free trip to Canada, where you can buy them cheaper? Willing to share your story with the press?

Florida PIRG and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights are looking for Floridians who will board their train to Toronto, holding press conferences along the way. Closest point for Tampa Bay area residents to jump aboard will be Orlando's Amtrak station.

In August, the foundation sponsored a similar trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, along the West Coast. It attracted 28 people, from small-business owners to seniors. The sponsors hope to attract the same-sized group, from a range of backgrounds, for the East Coast trip that will leave Miami on Oct. 11, arriving in Toronto late Oct. 13. Participants will visit a Canadian doctor and drugstore, then fly home Oct. 14. Train transportation, accommodations, airfare and most meals will be covered by the sponsors. Participants will have to pay a nominal fee for the Canadian doctor, plus pay for their prescriptions.

Jerry Flanagan of the foundation said the sponsors will screen interested participants with an eye toward those with the greatest need. Participants on the West Coast trip saved an average of $2,000 per person on their Canadian purchases.

Space on the chartered train may also be limited if two special guests join. Both President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry have been offered a seat on the Rx Express; neither was able to fit the West Coast trip into his campaign schedule.