IL Governor Wants a Review of Preferred Drug Provider List

November 26, 2003 ( - Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich wants state health care programs to remove from their preferred prescription drug lists any companies that limit their supplies to Canada.

Blagojevich has asked the advisory committees of 12 state health-care programs to review their lists of drugs and look for alternatives to replace drugs made by the five companies. If a safe equivalent drug made by a company not restricting Canadian drug supplies can be found, then Blagojevich would like the switch to be made, according to an Associated Press report.

So far, five major US drug companies – AstraZeneca , Eli Lilly & Co., GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Pfizer Inc. and Wyeth – have placed controls on their Canadian drug sales. This in an effort to prevent the medications from being reimported and sold to consumers in the United States, Blagojevich said, according to the AP report.

Blagojevich earlier released a plan for calling for the state to buy prescription medicine from Canada for as many as 240,000 state employee and retirees (See Illinois Gov Pushes For Canadian Drug Purchases ). The governor says by implementing this plan, the state stands to save more than 16% of its annual share of drug costs. Overall, that amounts to $90.7 million a year in savings for Illinois or $1,008 for a state employee or retiree that fills three prescriptions a month (See Illinois Governor Says Proof Is in the Canadian Drug Plan Pudding ).

Putting the potential cost savings aside, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US pharmaceutical companies have repeatedly raised questions about the safety of drugs brought from Canada and other countries. Among the agency’s concerns is the inability to ensure the safety of the products due to the potential for counterfeit drugs, drugs kept beyond their expiration dates, drugs not approved for use in this country and drugs from other countries shipped into Canada and then elsewhere (SeeFDA Stings Springfield’s Canadian Drug Supplier).

“We’re disappointed with the governor’s announcement today,”AstraZenecaspokeswoman Rachel Bloom-Baglintold the AP. “It is still illegal to import drugs from foreign countries, Canada included.”