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by Vern Perry, NSC Vice-President
Originally published on  January 12, 2006 - reprinted with permission

  Ken Mahal and I attended a meeting on Monday, January 9, 2006 with Nevada Attorney General George Chanos at his invitation. Attending with us were representatives of many senior groups such as AARP as well as a couple of reporters. The purpose of the meeting was to explain his interpretation of Senate Bill 5 which concerns allowing Nevadans to purchasing prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.

He prefaced his discussion of the bill by saying that he thought it an abomination that our seniors find it necessary to purchase drugs in a foreign country and that the whole drug business is a national disgrace. He further stated he is not anti-senior or anti-Canadian.

The bill as originally written (AB195) stated that the drugs had to be FDA or Health Canada approved. Later, when the bill was discussed in the senate, Health Canada was removed for some unknown reason and the bill, now SB 5, was passed and signed into law by Governor Guinn. Evidently this was the best bill they could get and they wanted something.

According to the AG removal of Health Canada made the bill impossible to defend in just about any court, including the Nevada Supreme Court. A major problem is that the United States FDA has stated time and time again it does not approve of drugs imported from foreign counties over which it has no control. If the reference to Health Canada had been left in the bill the AG would have no problem with the bill. If this provision was reinserted in the bill and he were in the legislature he would vote for the bill. He has asked Governor Guinn to call a special session of the legislature to repair this bill. He is very willing to work with Assemblywoman Buckley and Senator Heck to get such a bill passed. If a bill were passed with Health Canada included in the wording and such a bill was challenged then the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment (States Rights) could be used in the courts counter any suits against the bill.

This whole issue arose when the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy asked the then Attorney General Brian Sandoval for an opinion on the legality of the bill. He wrote an opinion but did not sign it and left it for AG Chanos to decide. The Board would be individually liable for any damage done to persons importing Canadian drugs if they do not follow AG Chanos interpretation according to the AG. The AG stated he has no intention of prosecuting any Nevadan that imports Canadian drugs.

He also reported that the lobbyists for the drug companies are trying to get the Canadian government to pass laws preventing exporting drugs.
The Nevada State Board of Pharmacy met in Las Vegas January 12, 2006 and a large number of pro SB 5 people, including some of our members, were expected to attend. Unfortunately this was NSC’s meeting date so Ken and I could not attend but people will be reporting to me on what happens at the meeting.
This is not the last you will hear about this important issue.

As a side note to the meeting we were told by the AG that, while he is in office, his priorities will be:
        Justice for Children
        Justice for the Elderly.
Remember our motto; “A Better Quality of Life for Seniors, Their Children and Grandchildren”. Close to what he believes isn’t it?

… In our experience, many drugs obtained from foreign sources that purport and appear to be the same as FDA-approved prescription drugs have been of unknown quality. Because the medications are not subject to FDA’s safety oversight, they could be outdated, contaminated, counterfeit or contain too much or too little of the active ingredient. In addition, foreign dispensers of drugs to American citizens may provide patients with incorrect strengths, medicines that should not be used in people with certain conditions or concomitantly with other medications, or medications without proper directions for use.

FDA approves a drug based on scientific data submitted by the drug sponsor to demonstrate that the drug is safe and effective. We cannot provide adequate assurance to the American public that drug products delivered to consumers in the United States from foreign countries are the same products approved by the FDA. Accordingly, the FFDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act { 21 U.S.C. 301 et seq. — Editor} strictly limits the types of prescription drugs that may be imported into the United States.

Exerpt from letter dated September 22, 2005, to Larry Pinson Pharm D., Executive Director Nevada State Board of Pharmacy from Randall W. Lutter, Ph. D., Acting Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning, Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration.