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ABC News TV 10 (Syracuse, NY)

Group fed up with high prescription drug costs

by Adam Chodak, TV 10 News Now Web Staff
October 13, 2004

The so-called Rx Express rolled in Syracuse just after 2:00 Wednesday afternoon. The chartered train was carrying around two dozen seniors and patients making their way from Miami to Canada to buy cheaper prescription drugs. Those on board said they were making stops all along the East Coast to tell people how fed up they were with the high cost of drugs in the States.

Now this issue isn't just riding on the Rx Express. In fact, it's cropped up throughout the presidential campaign. For instance, we heard about it during the second debate between President Bush and Senator Kerry.

"Why did you block the re-importation of safer and inexpensive drugs from Canada which would have cut around 40 to 60 percent of the cost?"

President Bush replied, "I haven't yet. I just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you."

Senator Kerry takes a different stance.

"As President, I'll fight to allow Americans to import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada," he said.

Those with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, the organizers of the trip, say talk of importation is fine, but they're really after lowering the price of drugs at home.

"We're making a statement about the high costs of prescription drugs. Seniors shouldn't have to go to Canada, we should have policies in the United State. We should be bulk purchasing drugs, negotiating prices like Canada does and opening that program up to all patients," said Jerry Flanagan, Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

While the Rx Express has left the U.S., those like Flanagan hope the issue of prescription drugs does not follow.

Amtrak did not allow us to shoot video on the platform, citing security risks. And the group claims Amtrak wouldn't let them off the train when they stopped in Rochester. Amtrak denies the charges. They say the railroad has not denied the group any rights. They say they simply tried to enforce security rules and keep the trains running on time.