ROCKFORD, Minn - A Rockford man worries a federal bill will pass and stop him from ordering much needed medicine from an online Canadian pharmacy.
When Crohn's disease began to ravage Rico Anderson's health and bank account, he logged onto a lifeline.
He discovered he could save thousands on much needed medicine, if he ordered through an online Canadian pharmacy.
"I could get the same prescription though online in Canada for $135 a month," said Anderson. He pointed to the package of tablets he says would cost more than $750 a month here.
As a self employed entertainment manager and booking agent, he knew he count on the savings, until a recent letter from the pharmacy, Big Mountain Drugs.
"Beware, your government is going to try and take this right away so you can't order in Canada anymore," said Anderson, of the warning letter.
That's when he began to research read about the passage of a bill that boosts the FDA's budget and authority, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.
It is designed to increase inspections of foreign drug factories, while also speeding approvals of new drugs at home.
Lee Graczyk heads up an affordable prescription advocacy group based in the Twin Cities, RxRights, and says Section 708 of the bill is troubling for the nearly 14,000 Minnesotans who order drugs from other countries - himself included.
"That is because Section 708 allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine that any imported medicine valued at $2,500 or less may be seized and subject to destruction, without reimbursement or replacement," he said, adding a length appeals process could follow.
He says his 2,200 members save anywhere from 20 to 80 percent on imported drugs.
"People are using this option because they cannot afford to buy the medications here. If this law passes, they can't afford to buy the medications and stop taking the medications, they not only put their health at risk, but as a nation, it's going to cost us more money," said Graczyk.
Graczyk said President Barack Obama is expected to sign the FDA reauthorization bill, but right now it's unclear how the seizure of imported drugs would be funded or enforced. He points to a lack of information behind a bill that he says was worked out behind closed doors.
Sen. Al Franken tried to pass an amendment to the bill that would allow people to buy drugs from Canada, along with Arizona Sen. John McCain, but it failed, press spokesperson Alexandra Fetissoff confirmed Thursday.
"Very angry about it, you feel defeated," said Anderson, who already deals with a chronic illness, and now, chronic worry.
He's written his lawmakers and the White House. He's already received his doctor's approval to reduce his dosage to decrease costs.
"If it gets to a point where you have to decide to buy your medicine or pay your mortgage or put food on the table, what are you going to do?" he said.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)