October 18, 2004

MORE PROBLEMS WITH KERRY'S MULTILATERAL APPROACH: First the "get NATO involved" seems to have flopped. The Germans and the French have made clear that they're not sending troops to Iraq. Now the cheap-drugs-from-Canada approach seems to have gone belly-up, too:

More than 30 Canadian internet pharmacies have decided not to accept bulk orders of prescription drugs from US states and municipalities.

The move delivers a potentially serious setback to US politicians most notably Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry campaigning to give Americans easier access to cheap drugs from Canada. . . . But growing concern in Canada that growing exports to the US could lead to rising prices and shortages north of the border has prompted the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (Cipa), whose members include several of the biggest internet and mail-order drugstores, to act.

It's always seemed obvious to me that we can't generate much in the way of real savings by sending drugs from America to Canada and then reimporting them. That's not real cost-lowering but the sort of regulatory arbitrage that -- as the Canadians have figured out -- is more likely to raise Canadian prices than lower American ones in the long run. (And as Tom Maguire notes, other people have figured that out, too.) Still, the Kerry Campaign might wish that the Canadians had waited a couple of weeks.