Pharmacy Board does right by Nevadans

The Nevada Pharmacy Board deserves congratulations for forging ahead with a program to allow Nevada residents to buy prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies via the Internet.

It doesn't hurt that the board has residents and legislators behind it. The sole obstacle was Attorney General George Chanos' opinion that a law approved by the Legislature last year was flawed because it required drugs to be FDA-approved.

Prescription drugs sold from Canada obviously aren't approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, although they get a similar review from the FDA's Canadian counterpart. They are, we believe, just as safe.

It also was obviously legislators' intent to allow drugs similar to FDA-approved formulas to enter Nevada, yet Chanos had little choice but to read the law the way it was written. And it was written poorly.

The Pharmacy Board has opened itself to a legal challenge, although it should be short-lived. The Legislature could hustle into a special session to clarify the language of the law, if Gov. Kenny Guinn agrees, or it could act early in the 2007 session.

Nevada also has put itself at odds with the Bush administration's national policy, which opposes Canadian drug imports - at the expense of people who can least afford to pay the inflated prices charged by a protected pharmaceutical industry.

But state legislators were right to think of their constituents' needs first, and the Pharmacy Board was right to proceed with the program.

Although eight other states have similar Internet-based programs to allow residents to buy drugs from Canada, Nevada's was the first to be initiated by legislative action and could embolden several other states to follow suit.

Thus the state could again become a battleground, this time for the pharmaceutical industry. If Big Pharma wants to justify its practices in court, Nevadans - and the rest of the country - would like to hear it.


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