MN Starting Canadian Pharmacy Inspections

March 5, 2004 ( - Minnesota, which began the nation's first state-sponsored Internet connection with Canadian pharmacies five weeks ago, is kicking off inspections of two Canadian mail-order pharmacies.

State Human Services Commissioner Kevin Goodno said the inspections of the pharmacies that supply low-price drugs to the state’s residents had been planned all along, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. “We’re not worried about them, and they had agreed from the start that unannounced inspections would be part of the deal,” Goodno told the newspaper .

The inspections of Total Care Pharmacy of Calgary, Alberta, and Granville Pharmacy of Vancouver, BC, will not occur immediately because details still must be worked out by the Human Services Department and the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, which sent two inspectors to help evaluate the two pharmacies last December.

The state has defied warnings from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other Bush administration officials that its Web site,, endangers residents by exposing them to imported drugs that could be tainted or counterfeit. Numerous other state and local government officials have either taken similar steps or are eyeing such a move in an effort to slash their spiraling health-care coverage costs.

“We’re aware that some of the Internet pharmacies may not be what they claim to be,” Goodno said. “So to help protect Minnesotans, we sent our people up to take a look at several before we selected two to put on our Web site.”

Wisconsin opened a similar Web site a week ago. So far, the Minnesota site has had more than 50,000 visits, yet the number of people buying drugs so far “appears to be small, maybe 100 or so,” Goodno said.

Meanwhile, one of two Canadian wholesalers that was cut off last week by giant drug manufacturer Pfizer admitted Thursday that it mistakenly supplied drugs to two of the Internet pharmacies on Pfizer’s list of forbidden customers. Neither pharmacy was listed on the Minnesota Web site.

Pfizer’s action – an escalation of a yearlong campaign by drug manufacturers against the mail-order companies – prompted the Minnesota State Board of Investment to demand that the company stop charging Americans more than foreign customers.

Also Thursday, the Minnesota Senior Federation said its board will probably vote next week to lead a nationwide ” Pfix Pfizer” campaign that may include picketing, a boycott of some Pfizer non-prescription products and support of a stockholder resolution critical of the company’s recent price increases.