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US to Lift Ban on Canadian Drug Imports

The controversial crackdown on discount drugs mailed from Canadian pharmacies to U.S. customers will soon be halted according //to the plans of the federal government, thereby removing the barriers towards Americans buying cheaper medications from abroad.

The Department of Homeland Security, which operates the Customs and Border Protection agency has said that it would stop the confiscation of Canadian drugs Monday and instead conduct random sampling to identify counterfeit and unsafe drugs. It has been estimated that common medications like Lipitor and Fosamax can be 30% to 80% cheaper from Canada and other countries. This year the U.S. government was confiscating as much as 20% of the shipments.

The US had begun this policy last November around the time enrollment began for the Medicare drug plan. Although U.S. officials claim that the Canadian shipments had been confiscated out of concerns about the drugs' safety, consumer advocates and others contended that the crackdown was an attempt to limit competition in the pharmaceutical market thereby compelling seniors to sign up for new Medicare plans paying higher prices for drugs from U.S. pharmacies.

The Medicare law requires enrollees to pay the full cost after their total annual drug spending exceeds $2,250. Coverage kicks in again if annual drug expenses hit $5,100. Therefore advocates said that many low-income seniors were considering going without needed medications through the end of the year.

Jodi Reid, director of the California Alliance for Retired Americans said that the change in customs' practices ‘could have a huge impact.’

Reid said, "People were concerned that they might not get their drugs because they were getting seized. This does open that option again for people who were trying to figure out how to get their medications to manage their health at a price they can afford."

While it is illegal for individuals to import pharma
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