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August 19, 2004


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today called on President Bush to take a firm position on the issue of importing prescription drugs from other industrialized countries where they cost significantly less.  The Governor’s comments come a day after the President acknowledged, “If it’s safe, it makes sense,” but then warned that his administration was still studying the issue.
“More than a million Americans buy their medications from Canada and other countries every year because they can’t afford the prices here in the United States – and not one person has been injured or killed as a result.  Why?  Because they are the exact same medications that we use here in the United States, they just cost half as much.  The FDA and the Bush Administration know this, yet they continue to raise the safety issue in order to avoid making a change that would be unpopular with the pharmaceutical industry,” said the Governor.
Last December, Governor Blagojevich appealed to Sec. Tommy Thompson, Bush’s appointed head of the Department of Health and Human Services, requesting a waiver to develop a pilot program to import a limited list of prescription drugs from Canada.  The Governor sought to partner with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to study importation on a limited scale.  The Governor’s request was denied.
Since that time, four states have established websites that link their citizens to Canadian pharmacies.  The FDA has not taken action against any of the states.
Illinois continued its efforts to review the safety and feasibility of giving its citizens access to imported prescription drugs, sending a delegation of experts to Europe to review the European Union’s policies and practices.
This week, Governor Blagojevich announced Illinois’ plans to contract with a Canadian pharmacy benefits manager to establish a network of state-inspected and approved pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom.  His plan is expected to save Illinois residents up to 50 percent on eligible medications.
“The Bush administration refuses to work with the many states and cities across the country that are trying to help their citizens afford the medications they need.  And now the President says it makes sense to import drugs if it can be done safely.  It’s already being done, and the FDA has done nothing to help make it safer.  That’s why Illinois is taking the step of establishing and inspecting its own network of foreign pharmacies,” the Governor said.  “I urge the President to stop studying and to start helping.”


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