Kenneth McCall of the Maine Pharmacy Association wanted to find out what he would receive when ordering medication from Canada Drug Center, a company who began advertising in Maine as soon as the new drug importation law was passed. When he saw the drugs were sourced in places not permitted by the new law, he filed suit to stop Canada Drug Center from selling to Maine patients.
Shortly after LD 171 was passed, Kenneth McCall, president of the Maine Pharmacy Association saw an ad in a local newspaper for low cost prescriptions, reports the Morning Sentinel. According to the Sentinel, the ad did not say who it was for, but offered low prices on generic version of drugs such as Advair (an asthma and COPD treatment), Celebrex (an arthritis drug), and Nexium (for heartburn). There was only a phone number, and when Mr. McCall called them, he was directed to the Canada Drug Center website for purchase.
According to the Maine Public Broadcasting Association, the drugs Mr. McCall ordered from Canada Drug Center did not come from Canada. Instead they were sent “directly from India, Turkey, and Mauritius. And the sponsor of the Maine bill that allows drug imports, Democratic Sen. Troy Jackson, says the intent of the law is to only allow imports directly from licensed retail pharmacies in approved foreign countries.” The approved foreign countries are Canada, the UK, Northern Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.
So Mr. McCall has filed a complaint against Canada Drug Center, demanding that they either comply with Maine law or cease operations in Maine, reports the Maine Public Broadcasting Association. As Mr. McCall explained to them “The problem is, that this isn’t the same thing, for example, as driving up to New Brunswick and having a prescription filled by a licensed pharmacist, at a licensed pharmacy in New Brunswick. This is so different, because these products – none of them are sourced, manufactured, distributed or filled in any of the countries that are outlined in that legislation.”
In a written response to his complaint, a lawyer for Canada Drug Center justifies his client’s actions claiming that Mr. McCall was fully warned by the company that his medication would not be coming from the legally acceptable sources. He also claims that Mr. McCall took possession of those medications when the electronic payment was processed, therefore Canada Drug Center did not violate the Maine law because they were not the importer. They did not deny that the medications were from sources not listed as approved by the Maine law however.
In November, Maine passed a drug importation law, LD 171, whose purpose was to allow Maine residents to purchase low-cost imported medication from licensed pharmacies in specific countries, Canada, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Commonwealth of Australia, and New Zealand. That law is currently being challenged in Federal court by the Maine Pharmacy Association, reports the Morning Sentinel. Maine pharmacist Amelia Arnold explained why at the 2013 Interchange: “This new law does not provide patients in Maine with any recourse if a counterfeit or adulterated prescription drug is shipped to their home. The scope of this new law could even include controlled, addictive Rx drugs. Patients lives are at risk.”
Mr. McCall filed his personal complaint after receiving the drugs he ordered, and found they had been shipped directly from India, Turkey and Mauritius, reports the Morning Sentinel. Mr. McCall filed his suit because this demonstrated that Canada Drug Center is merely a “pass-through” company for medication from countries that are not approved to ship to Maine, reports MaineBiz. In his complaint, Mr. McCall stated “My dual concern is for public safety and a violation of Maine’s prescription drug importation ordinance. I appreciate your time and respectfully request an investigation into this complaint.”
Want to understand what really happens when you buy medication from a Canadian online pharmacy? Read “What You Don’t Know About Importing Drugs From Canada.”