Friday, Feb. 20


Nation's governors to discuss prescription drug importation     Send a link to a friend

Summit panels will feature congressional representatives,
opponents and proponents

[FEB. 20, 2004]  Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) will co-host a summit of the nation's governors in Washington, D.C. next week to discuss opportunities to lower prescription medicine costs. Both governors have been leaders in pursuing prescription medicine reimportation opportunities.

Last fall, Gov. Blagojevich released the results of a comprehensive study he commissioned on the savings and feasibility of importing prescription drugs from Canada for Illinois' 230,000-member employee and retiree health plan. The study found that the state and its health plan participants could save a combined $90.7 million a year. In late December, Blagojevich asked Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson to allow Illinois to work with HHS and the FDA to launch the nation's first pilot drug importation program. The secretary has not yet responded to Illinois' request.

Earlier this year, Gov. Pawlenty unveiled a first-in-the-nation website that enables Minnesota citizens to purchase prescription medicines directly from Canadian pharmacies. The site,, enables Minnesotans to have their prescriptions filled at one of two Canadian pharmacies that have been inspected and assessed by the state of Minnesota. Since its launch in January, the site has received more than 35,000 hits. The next phase for Minnesota includes providing incentives to state employees to purchase their prescriptions through the new website and urging federal changes to enable states to use bulk importation so citizens can purchase lower priced medicines through their local pharmacists.

The Governors' Prescription Drug Summit will be conducted following the National Governors Association winter meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Washington, D.C. The summit will be in Commerce Hearing Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building and is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. All activities are open to the press.

The summit is intended to give the nation's governors -- many of whom are exploring importation as a cost-savings option -- an opportunity to share ideas and get information about safety concerns that have been raised by opponents to importation.


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Schedule for Governors' Prescription Drug Summit

2 p.m. -- Opening news conferences, featuring all governors in attendance

2:30 p.m. -- Hearing on reimportation of prescription medicines from Canada

Participating governors will listen to testimony of expert panels and will have the opportunity to ask questions.

The following people have been invited to participate in the congressional panel: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D.; Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Rep. Gil Gutknecht, R-Minn.; and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.

The following individuals and organizations have been invited to participate in the opponent panel:

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson; Food and Drug Administration; National Association of Manufacturers; Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactureres of American; Mr. Carmen Catizone, executive director, National Boards of Pharmacy

The following individuals have been invited to participate in the proponent panel: Andy Troszok, Total Care Pharmacy, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Steven W. Schondelmeyer, Pharm.D., Ph.D., University of Minnesota; and Michal J. Albano, former mayor of Springfield, Mass.

4 p.m. -- Closing remarks

All of the nation's governors have been invited to participate. Confirmed participants include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D), West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise (D) and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R).

More information on what both governors are doing to bring down prescription drug costs can be found at (Minnesota) and (Illinois).

[News release from the governors
of Illinois and Minnesota]

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