MN Governor Pulling Pension Fund Into Canadian Drug Fray

February 27, 2004 ( - Minnesota is calling on the state pension fund to come to its aid in fighting Pfizer's decision to cut off supplies to Canadian pharmacies allegedly selling to Americans.

Minnesota’s Republican governor Tim Pawlenty announced plans on his weekly radio address to ask the Minnesota State Board of Investment on Wednesday to draft a shareholder resolution opposing the cutoff. This came after Pfizer shut off shipments to two Canadian wholesalers – Prairie Supply Co-op and ProCurity Pharmacy Services Inc – that allegedly supplied medicine to pharmacies that sold to Americans. The mail-order pharmacies deny the allegations, according to an Associated Press report.

Pawlenty is counting on the power of the state’s pension purse to persuade Pfizer to reconsider the action. Dan McElroy, Pawlenty’s chief of staff, told the Associated Press Minnesota’s investment fund is one of the largest shareholders in the company, owning 12.9 million shares. Additionally, the governor used his radio address to call on other states to join in the fight, to “push back against these pharmaceutical companies even further.”

Pawlenty has been pushing back against not only the pharmaceutical companies, but the federal government as well in recent months. In January, Minnesota became the first state to operate a Web site that helps residents import medications from Canada. Then this week, Pawlenty challenged the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test the safety of the state’s new program that helps people buy low-cost prescription drugs from Canada. The FDA had previously been critical of state sanctioned Canadian drug buying cartels citing safety concerns (See Officials Kick Off Golden State Anti-Canadian Drug PR Effort ), but denied Pawlenty’s request, saying the agency did not have the authority.