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The Saratogian

Americans must have access to affordable medication

by Editorial
October 17, 2004

The right prescription for what's ailing the U.S. drug industry is affordable prices.

A group of senior citizens steamed up from Miami this week aboard two train cars dubbed the Rx Express, heading to Toronto in search of reasonably priced prescription medication. The fact that they have to travel so far is shameful. They deserve all our thanks for their gumption.

No one begrudges any drug manufacturer an honest living, but the United States is the last industrialized nation where drug companies have free rein to set prices. The result is that the same prescription medicine costs half again as much in the United States as just across the border in Canada. Even more sickening, these are drugs made by U.S. companies, often with a boost from government grants -- i.e., from the American taxpayers.

Canada has price controls, so a growing number of elected officials across the United States have flaunted the law to import drugs for their citizens. The city of Boston and the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin are among those that have set up importation programs or are in the process of doing so. Most are getting medication from Canada. Some are also reaching out to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The Rx Express headed through our area Wednesday, so we hear. Group organizer Jerry Flanagan claims that once the train reached upstate New York, Amtrak officials blocked it from the press in Rochester, Albany and Schenectady. Amtrak flat-out denies his allegations.

A train can be stopped, but an idea cannot. The widespread support for the American Drug Revolution is a clarion call for change. The public won't stand for gouging on basic medication.