TORONTO -- Canada will soon unveil measures to restrict the Internet sale of prescription drugs to US consumers, officials said yesterday. Such sales have become popular with Americans seeking cheaper medicine.
Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh did not specify what steps would be taken, but his spokesman said the measures being considered include preventing Canadian doctors from cosigning prescriptions without examining patients.
Other measures might be prohibiting prescriptions for foreigners who are not in Canada, barring a price reduction if the drugs are exported, or banning bulk exports, spokesman Ken Polk said.
Dosanjh has been studying options to restrict the practice for at least six months. ''I am concerned and we're acting on it. There will be news soon," he said.
President Bush's administration opposes the prescription drug imports, and federal regulators warn they cannot guarantee the safety of drugs from outside US borders. But Canada has dismissed concerns about the safety of drugs sold there, saying its regulations are tougher than those in the United States.
As part of its socialized medical system, the Canadian government sets drug prices lower than those charged in the United States.
Under current practice, a prescription from a US doctor is faxed to a Canadian doctor, who reviews the document along with the patient's health history. The Canadian doctor signs and sends the prescription to a so-called Internet pharmacy, which ships the drug to the patient.