Land of 1000 Lakes and a Lot of Counterfeit Drugs

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  • 02/13/2006

A recent inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found some of the drugs Minnesotans order from Canada may not be from the country at all.

Wallace Greenfield discovered one of his “Canadian” drugs came from Greece, and another came from Vanuatu, a small island in the South Pacific.

“I never heard of the place,” Greenfield said.

The U.S. government says it happens all the time and is a growing concern.

“We were beginning to see a pattern of products coming that were purporting to be of Canadian origin coming from various countries from throughout the world,” said Steve Niedelman of the FDA. “We wanted to determine how widespread this was.”

The FDA launched an investigation confiscating thousands of drug shipments headed for the U.S. Some of them were headed for Minnesotans who ordered them over the state’s Web site.

When opened, nearly half claimed to be of Canadian origin, but “85 percent of them were from 27 other countries,” Niedelman said.

“We saw product coming through from Germany, from Australia, from China, from Iran, from Ecuador,” Niedelman said.

The FDA said 30 drugs were counterfeit.

The Minnesota Senior Federation says 25 prescription orders from Minnesota were among those that were confiscated in recent months.

According to Tom Sheck of Minnesota Public Radio (a media never accused of slanting to the right), “When Gov. Pawlenty announced the MinnesotaRXConnect program two years ago, he predicted that it could cover 700,000 Minnesotans and save millions of dollars for consumers. The actual numbers are well short of those projections, and demand for the program has been declining sharply in recent months.”

It’s time for Governor Pawlenty to relenty and stop his unlawful, unsafe and (fortunately) seldomly used state-sponsored program.

Because today it’s just folly, but it could very well turn into state-sponsored health care terrorism.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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