Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Smugglin' Drugs

My 7-year old daughter takes Claritin for her allergies to grasses, trees, cats, etc. Until today it required a prescription to purchase.

Now that Claritin is an Over-The-Counter (OTC) drug, its price will drop considerably, from the $90 I was paying for a 30-day supply.

Now that I am self-employed, my insurance coverage isn't as good as before. Even though that is of little consequence. You still pay for the whole shooting match, whether in higher taxes, or higher premiums to your employer that don't go into the salary bucket. But I wasn't looking forward to paying that much a month anyway. My old insurance only covered 50% of the $90, so it was still expensive.

A have some very good friends in Canada where Claritin is an OTC drug. I was working a barter with one of them. He needed an iPod that Apple wouldn't ship to him, and I needed Claritin, which was 75% cheaper up there.

We ran into some problems trying to get it shipped. The FDA allows US citizens to order 90-day supplies of medication from outside the country. But there's the OTC vs. Rx thing going on. It's OTC in Canada, and Rx here (before today). So you have to generate this FDA Product Code which goes on the outside of the package. Even if you do all this, it still can be stopped at the border and detained.

I learned a lot doing the research on getting it shipped down here. FedEx ships from Canada to the US, but when my friend gave the package to the courier and told her what it was, she wouldn't touch it. Said that they would stop it at the border, and they were even stopping Tylenol.

The only Tylenol you'd order from Canada to the US would have Codeine in it, which is a controlled substance, and therefore would be stopped for good reason.

I did check around, and found that some shipments of Claritin were being stopped because they were a prescription drug. Others were let through with no problem.

One of the people interviewed for the Fox article starts to whine about how now that people are going to have to buy Claritin with thier own money. Isn't this how things work? When you have a headache, you go to the store to buy aspirin and you don't expect the insurance company to cover it. People expect too much to be handed to them, and think its somehow 'free'. If you think your insurance coverage is free, try running your own business or buying your own coverage. Everytime you use the Emergency Room as a doctor's office for non-emergencies, you raise the price of insurance for everyone else.

So quit it.