Assembly OKs bill to enable buying Canadian drugs |

Assembly OKs bill to enable buying Canadian drugs

The Nevada Assembly approved the plan designed to help Nevadans safely buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada on Thursday.

Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said Americans pay as much as five times what residents of other countries pay for prescription drugs. In Nevada, she said residents spend some $930 million a year on drugs – an average of nearly $53 per prescription.

Yet, just across the border in Canada, she said, those same drugs are as much as 50 percent less.

She said there have been charges by pharmaceutical companies and federal officials that they can’t guarantee the quality and purity of drugs from other countries. But she said that’s not the case with Canada which, like the U.S., has strong standards.

“In some cases, the Canadian pharmacies are more restricted than American pharmacies,” she said.

She said AB195 would help protect Nevadans who are now buying drugs through the Internet without knowing what country they are coming from.

“Safety concerns do not exist when a person purchases medication from a licensed Canadian pharmacy which sells drugs approved by Canada Health,” she said, adding that the same cannot be said for some Third World countries.

“This is designed to protect the health of the people we represent,” she said.

AB195 would require the state license Canadian pharmacies just as it now licenses Nevada pharmacies.

The state would then provide a list of licensed pharmacies for Nevadans to purchase their prescription drugs from. No controlled substances could be purchased and buys would be limited to a three-month supply. All drugs on the list must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration or it’s counterpart Canada Health.

The list would also be available on the Internet with links so a consumer could reach the site of licensed Canadian pharmacies.

The primary opposition to the bill came from the two physicians in the Assembly who happen to be Republicans. Garn Mabey said he was concerned that losing more U.S. business could eventually force drug companies to push prices here even higher.

He said the option of laws artificially holding prices down would kill drug company incentives to develop new prescription drugs.

Joe Hardy pointed out the federal Health and Human Services Department hasn’t yet approved importing medicines from Canada and he would support the plan only if it was drafted as enabling legislation if and when HHS does so.

But Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the bill could save Nevada seniors who have several prescriptions costing hundreds of dollars a month. Without it, she said, some would be forced to choose which drug they stop taking.

“I don’t want price controls but why should my constituent, my elderly constituent, have to choose which medicine he’s not going to take,” she said.

AB195 passed 29-12 with one absent. The opponents were all Republican members.

The bill goes to the Senate.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.