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January 19, 2005

A Perspective on US Drug Reimportation

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Boston, Mass (Dr Choudhry); the Departments of Medicine and Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, and the Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario (Dr Detsky).

JAMA. 2005;293(3):358-362. doi:10.1001/jama.293.3.358

The high cost of prescription drugs in the United States receives media attention almost daily. In the past year, one third of Americans say that they or a family member has had difficulty paying for medications.1 A similar proportion has not filled a prescription or has reduced a prescribed dosage because of high out-of-pocket costs.2 In response, Americans are turning to cheaper sources for their prescription drugs.3 Canadian pharmacies are a logical choice because, partially as a result of governmental controls, prices for many of the most widely used drugs are substantially lower in Canada.4 A recent survey of US consumers found that 7% have purchased medications from pharmacies in Canada or another country and 16% of individuals with annual out-of-pocket drug expenditures over $1000 have done so.5 Moreover, 73% of Americans older than 50 years would consider buying drugs from Canada or another country if this were feasible.6

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