Boston Mayor Considers Pushing Canadian Drugs

October 29, 2003 ( - Looking to cut costs from the city's budget, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is looking into buying Canadian prescription drugs for city workers.

To get his program off the ground, Menino meet with fellow Bay Stater and Springfield Mayor Michael Albano earlier this week to discuss how Springfield operates its Canadian drug-purchasing program, which has enrolled about 2,000 Springfield city workers and retirees and saved the city $600,000, according to a Boston Globe report.

Before jumping in feet first though, Menino would like to first toe the water by extending a discount program for Boston’s elderly to uninsured city residents. He called on the state to launch a bulk-purchasing plan that would give it greater bargaining clout with drug companies.

Continuing down this road though will only embroil Beantown in the middle of a roiling debate over prescription drug costs. He would join mayors Albano of Springfield and Michael Bloomberg of New York City (See Springfield, Mass. Pushes Canadian Drug Order Program,Big Apple Mayor Wants to Harvest Drugs From Canada ) and the governors of Illinois, Minnesota, and other states (See Illinois Governor Says Proof Is in the Canadian Drug Plan Pudding , MN Governor Brings Canadian Drug Buying Plan to the Streets) on the front lines of a growing rebellion against the high cost of prescription drugs.

However, unlike the other municipal plans floating around, Menino says any import program he launches would have provisions to protect neighborhood pharmacies from foreign competition. Further, a Boston plan could only be undertaken in conjunction with a broader federal initiative to bring down domestic prescription costs, such as reconsidering tax incentives and research subsidies for drug manufacturers, Menino said.

Further, Menino was careful to say that he strongly supports ”legal importation.” Asked whether he would defy the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and set up a plan like Springfield’s if the government does not change the rules, he said he would ”very seriously” consider such a move. ”We have some staff people right now working on this whole issue,” he said.