Canadian Drug Exports Tick Up

March 9, 2004 ( - United States-based customers bought more prescription medications exported from Canada in January, reversing three months of declines.

Cross-border Internet sales grew by 7.2% between December and January, a period that saw total sales by pharmacies selling locally to Canadians dip. Even though December’s export business had been sluggish, on the whole revenue achieved by cross-border drug traders in 2003 more than doubled over 2002 levels, according to an analysis conducted by the Pharmacy Alliance for Canadians.

The trend is not expected to sustain itself, due primarily to fewer days in February. Projections show the export drug trade is expected to drop, as it did last year – down 13% January to February in 2003.

Overall, the pharmacy group estimates the cross-border sales from Canadian Internet pharmacies alone is C$815 million to C$880 million at Internet pharmacy prices to consumers. These cross-border sales to Americans are concentrated in a relatively few drug classifications, the analysis found. For example, 84% of all drugs shipped to the US are grouped in only ten therapeutic classes.

This in turn creates a shortage situation made even more acute because these groups happen to be the same therapeutic classes that are essential to chronic care Canadians. For example, while the ranking is modestly different, the top six selling therapeutic classes in Canada are the same top six that Americans are buying through cross-border drug companies.

To address shortage situations, Canadian drug manufacturers have tried to implement roadblocks to the access to prescription medicine to retailers engaged in the cross-border drug trade.“We had hoped that new restrictions imposed by Canadian drug manufacturers on Internet traders would stem the flow, so that supplies here would be less threatened,” Chairman, Greg Skura of Super Thrifty Drugs said in a news release. “These actions probably contributed to the fourth quarter decline, along withCanada’s advancing currency exchange rate, but January’s sales boost suggests that the problem of retail shortages will continue in the future.”