STATE SAYS THEY WANT TO HELP CANADIAN DRUG PROVIDERS-Andrew Stelzer

06/30/04

As we’ve been reporting here on WMNF, the last week the Florida Department of health sent warnings sent to a dozen Florida businesses that fax customers drug prescriptions to Canada, so that the customers can buy more affordable drugs. The cease and desist letters warned the store fronts, most of which have nothing but a counter and a fax machine, that they would be closed down if they did not comply with state laws and register to operate as pharmacies. The public, especially senior citizens, reacted strongly to the warnings; thousands of Floridians rely on drugs from Canada to survive, as they can not afford the high prices of medications in the United States. In response to angry phone calls and emails, John Agwunobi, the State Secretary of health announced that his intent is not to shut these businesses down, but to help them get the proper permits so that they can conduct business legally. WMNF spoke with Secretary of Health Agwunobi this afternoon; he said that the public may be confusing the issue of stores needing a mail order pharmacy license—which is a state issue, with the fact that the importation of drugs from Canada is illegal itself—but that is a federal issue that has nothing to do wit the recent cease and desist orders.

SOUND AGWUNOBI

The state is setting up a website to help storeowners through the process, which can be accessed by loging onto www.myflorida.com; the state is also encouraging storeowners to call the state department of health. George Donnelly, owner of Canada Drugs of Spring Hill, is one of 20 Tampa Bay area Canadian drug provider storeowners who met on Monday to discuss the threat to their businesses. Donnelly says he is cautiously optimistic about the announcement of apparent helpfulness by the state department of health.

SOUND

For more information about how to apply for a mail order pharmaceutical license, go to http://www.doh.state.fl.us/pharmacy/drugs/index.html

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