(12/26/2003)
The Bush administration is attempting to block West Virginia's plan to go to Canada to purchase less expensive prescription drugs, according to state PEIA Director Tom Susman.

Canadian drugs are often 25%-40% less than US wholesale prices.

Susman says the state will continue to pursue purchasing prescription drugs from Canada despite what he calls political rhetoric.

The West Virginia plan would also engage neighborhood pharmacists to deliver the medications.

Bush administration officials say they will stop states from going to Canada to purchase drugs, especially if the drugs are not FDA approved.

The Bush Medicare prescription plan, scheduled to help many people on Medicare, will purchase "full price" drugs from American drug companies, at rates few individuals can afford.

The cost will be passed on to taxpayers.

Susman says the West Virginia plan will be presented to the federal government for approval.

"We believe we have the authority and can put together a program that would be tough for the government not to certify," he said.

Susman says he believes the state could be purchasing the drugs within the next year, but a lot depends on the federal government, with 2004 being an election year.

The State of West Virginia spends millions of dollars of a year on prescription drugs for those on state-run medical programs.

"If something is done about the prices of domestic drugs, the states wouldn't go to Canada," states Susman.


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