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October 7, 2003

Delegation will investigate Canadian pharmacies' procedures and safety

CHICAGO - A delegation made up of pharmaceutical policy, legal and regulatory experts from the Blagojevich administration will travel to Canada this week to meet with representatives from Canadian pharmacies about their consumer information and safety procedures. The group, led by the state,s two Special Advocates on prescription drugs, is gathering information for a report requested by Gov. Rod Blagojevich on the cost-savings and feasibility of reimbursing state employees and retirees for prescription drugs they purchase from Canada.

"I've asked the best and brightest minds from the various areas of state government that would be involved in a drug importation plan to go see how the industry works in Canada. We want to help taxpayers and consumers in Illinois save money on prescription drugs, but we want to make sure we can do it safely and effectively," said Blagojevich.

The State of Illinois spends more than 340 million a year to provide prescription medications to its 230,000 retirees and employees, and 1.8 billion for all its health care programs combined.

In mid-September, Blagojevich asked the Special Advocates - Ram Kamath, Pharm.D., and Scott McKibbin - to study how much the state could save and what the legal and technical challenges might be if the state allowed its employees to buy drugs from Canada.

In addition to the Special Advocates, the Illinois delegation includes:


The delegation arrives in Windsor, Ontario, on Tuesday evening where it will meet with pharmacists and executives from CanaRx, the company that administers the drug importation program for the city of Springfield, MA. On Wednesday, the group will visit First Medical Pharmacy in Windsor, a CanaRx retail pharmacy that primarily serves Canadian consumers, but does approximately 20 percent of its business with American consumers. On Thursday the delegation will meet with several mail-order and on-line pharmacies in Winnipeg, Manitoba, including one of Norphar's network pharmacies, Fine Line Solutions and Canada Drugs, before traveling to Toronto, Ontario, to meet with ADV-Care, the pharmacy that supplies the Illinois Health Alliance. The delegation returns to Illinois on Friday.

In addition to their fact-finding efforts in Canada, the advocates are reaching out to pharmaceutical manufacturers, Illinois pharmacists, the Food and Drug Administration and consumer groups.

Their report will be issued before the end of October.

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You can visit the State of Illinois' web site on affordable prescriptions at