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Date Posted: 22:11:04 01/02/04 Fri
Author: Observer
Subject: W.Va. court decision approves importing of drugs from Canada
In reply to: Bennie 's message, "Canada: New Hampshire to put Canadian drugs mere click away for its residents" on 08:48:56 12/12/03 Fri

W.Va. court decision approves importing of drugs from Canada
By Susan Bush
Berkshire Eagle Staff


NORTH ADAMS -- One Internet company that permitted access to Canadian drugs was recently shut down by a court, while another was allowed to keep operating by a different court.

Just how those judicial decisions will affect the proposal of Houghton Street resident Kurt Bricault to open the same type of business in North Adams remains to be seen.

Lonnie Curtis, president of Discount Drugs of Canada, the company with which Bricault is involved, provided a copy of an October 2003 circuit court decision from Kanawha County, W.Va.

The decision ruled in favor of the Discount Prescription Center, a business similar to Discount Drugs of Canada, in a civil lawsuit filed against the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.

DPC owner Carole Becker, who filed the suit, asked that the state's pharmacy board be prevented from acting against her business.

The court decision identified DPC as a business with a "primary function to assist its patients by ordering non-narcotic drugs over the Internet." According to court documents, most DPC customers were elderly or low-income people who do not have access to the Internet, and the medications were acquired through a Canadian pharmacy in Manitoba.

The court noted that "anyone with Internet access can use the [Canadian pharmacy Web site] to purchase prescription drugs, often at significantly lower prices than those available in retail pharmacies in West Virginia."

The court noted that any orders were filled by a Canadian pharmacy only after physician approval, and that only prescriptions covering a 90-day period or less were filled. Prescription drugs were delivered directly to the consumer.

"No evidence has been introduced to show that any individual has been misled to believe that DPC is a pharmacy," the court ruled.

The West Virginia Board of Pharmacy was prohibited from "interfering with the services" provided by DPC.

The court concluded that "Becker does nothing for DPC's patrons that they could not do for themselves if they had computer skills and access to the Internet."

Becker was ordered to change the business name from Discount Prescription Center because the name could give the impression that prescriptions are filled and drugs are sold on the premises.

The court did take note of the state pharmacy board's concerns: "The court does not discount the concerns raised by the Pharmacy Board as to the safety or advisability of ordering prescription drugs from a foreign pharmacy. However, under the current state of the law, neither this court nor the Pharmacy Board has the right, the ability, or the authority to force the citizens of West Virginia to refrain from ordering prescription medications over the Internet from Canada simply because it may be unwise to do so."

An article on the NewsRx.com Web site states that West Virginia Gov. Robert Wise is now considering allowing pharmacies in his state to acquire and dispense Canadian drugs. West Virgina would be the first state to make Canadian drugs available to consumers.

Michael Wilusz of the Medicine Shoppe in Adams noted that a proposal such as Wise's on the national level would benefit consumers and pharmacies across the country.

Meanwhile, a well-publicized court case involving the RxDepot and a federal circuit court judge in Oklahoma had a different result. The judge issued a temporary injunction that closed RxDepot, which also offered Internet access to Canadian prescription drugs.

The Eagle's attempts to acquire a copy of the judge's decision in that case have been unsuccessful.

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