Maine wants the Canadian drugs FDA is trying to stop

With fake Avastin having made its way into the U.S. through a Canadian pharmacy, the FDA has stepped up investigations into the practices of some of the cross-border operations. That doesn't faze the governor of Maine who is looking for a legislative fix to allow a state employee program to keep buying drugs from one.

A recent ruling by the Maine attorney general determined CanaRx is an international firm and so cannot be considered a licensed pharmacy in Maine. CanaRX, in response, shut down its MaineMeds program, reports the Bangor Daily News, which the state was using to cut about $3 million out of state employee healthcare costs. The city of Bangor was expecting to save $200,000 in healthcare costs itself. For years, the company has provided mail-order drugs for public employee health plans in Illinois, Vermont, Rhode Island and elsewhere. That is the case even though when it opened in 2003, the FDA sent it a warning letter saying it was illegal for CanaRx to ship drugs to the U.S.

Governor Paul LePage's office, however, says the governor is looking for a legislative fix so drugs can again make their way to public employees from Canada.

The timing of this fight is interesting since federal authorities have stepped up investigations into some Canadian mail order pharmacies after discovering that at least some of the counterfeits of Roche's ($RHHBY) cancer drug Avastin delivered to physician practices throughout the U.S. earlier this year came through Canada. The owner of one pharmacy has acknowledged that his business shipped some of the drugs but said he was unaware they were counterfeit. The fakes had salt and starch and some other stuff in them but no active ingredient that would help keep patients alive.

Federal authorities also recently arrested and charged Andrew Strempler, the former owner of Canadian pharmacy, when they caught up with him in Florida.

The arrest also followed an FDA warning in May that fake versions of the ADHD drug Adderall, made by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) and other generics companies, had been showing up on Internet pharmacy sites. The short-acting form of Adderall has been in short supply since last year. But instead of Adderall's real active ingredient, at least some fakes contain painkillers, including the potentially habit-forming tramadol.

- here's the Bangor Daily News story 

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