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Pfizer Wants Canada to Stop Selling Drugs

January 15, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) _ Pfizer Inc. is applying tougher restrictions on Canadian pharmacies to discourage them from selling low-cost prescription drugs to American customers.

In a Monday letter, Pfizer told Canadian pharmacies they will need authorization to deal with wholesalers, and that they had to promise not to ship products south of the border.

The letter also said Pfizer would reserve the right to examine the pharmacies’ order histories for its products. As many pharmaceutical companies move to choke the supply of drugs to Canadian internet pharmacies, the online firms are turning to brick and mortar stores to replenish their stock. That may stop with Pfizer’s latest steps.

``It will become more difficult and costly for us to get Pfizer product,″ said David MacKay, executive director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. ``This is a dangerous precedent.″

Pfizer officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

Several drug companies, citing supply and safety concerned, have limited shipments to Canadian to keep drugs from being sold to Americans seeking cheaper medicines. Prescription drugs are up to 50 percent less expensive in Canada because of government price controls.

It is illegal for Americans to import drugs from Canada but regulators have largely turned a blind eye to individuals who fill their prescriptions over the border. Two American cities have programs that allow workers to buy drugs from Canada and scores of mayors and governors are considering following their lead.

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