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Troy Record

Drug train looks to get lawmakers on board

by James V. Franco, The Record
October 18, 2004

ALBANY, NY -- The "Rx Express" will be rolling through the Capital District this week en route to Canada to purchase cheaper prescription drugs.

Seniors and advocacy groups have long pleaded with the federal government to allow the same drugs to be imported from north of the border, where they are anywhere from 30 to 80 percent cheaper.

"We want to send the message (that) we should not have to travel to Canada to get lower-cost prescription drugs," said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. Flanagan said neither President George W. Bush nor his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, has proposed negotiating with the powerful pharmaceutical companies on bulk rates, which would drive down the cost of drugs.

"The political clout of the pharmaceutical companies effectively stops any reform from happening," Flanagan said.

The pharmaceutical companies hired 750 lobbyists to invade Washington and donate $820,000 to Bush's campaign and $330,000 to Kerry's, Flanagan said.

Other nations, such as Canada, Germany, England and France, set costs based on the International Prescription Drug Standard, which sets a price that is much cheaper than what the open market dictates.

The "Rx Express" left Miami on Monday and will pick up 25 people from Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York before crossing the border on Wednesday.

Organizers plan to hold a press conference at the Rensselaer train station on Wednesday.