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Opinions clash over drug law

A recently passed Albany County law permitting county employees to purchase medicine from a Canadian distributor, CanaRx, is illegal, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The bill's sponsor, Shawn Morse, D-Cohoes, and County Executive Mike Breslin argue the program could save substantial amounts of money. Morse also contends that the drugs purchased through CanaRx are not any less safe than those produced in the U.S.

Cohoes Mayor John McDonald, a pharmacist, said he applauds Morse for trying to save the county money, but is concerned with the legality of importation of medicine from Canada.

"I commend Shawn for trying to find ways to save money for tax payers. I'm not trying to knock what they're doing," McDonald said. "But, it's illegal. It gets to be a patient safety matter."

The Food and Drug Administration issued a statement to The Spotlight regarding the matter, specifically addressing CanaRx.

"CanaRx is an online drug seller that FDA has had concerns with in the past because they were facilitating the sale of unapproved and illegal drugs that potentially pose health risks. And, FDA has no reason to believe that the situation has changed," the statement reads.

"Under current law, importing drugs from abroad that are not approved in the United States is illegal. It's 'buyer beware' when consumers purchase prescription drugs over the internet. The FDA has seen Internet-purchased drugs that have too much, too little, no, or the wrong active ingredient as a result. The President's proposed FY2010 budget includes $5 million for the FDA to develop policies to allow Americans to buy drugs approved in other countries. The FDA is working with the Administration on this effort."

The resolution was passed at a Monday, June 8, meeting of the Albany County Legislature. Breslin signed the bill into law on Friday, June 12, said Mary Duryea, a representative from his office.

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