- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers have approved bills that would create government-sponsored Web sites encouraging consumers to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

The measures, which face almost certain vetoes by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, would make California one of just a few states to provide similar online information to residents. Others include Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Maine.

Federal law prohibits drug imports from other counties, but about 1 million Americans are having their prescriptions filled at Canadian pharmacies at prices as much as 40 percent less than their American counterparts.

Although the measures passed Friday by big majorities, Mr. Schwarzenegger has indicated that he will not sign either bill. The governor’s spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, has said the governor will not violate federal law.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a coalition of labor and consumer organizations, said Mr. Schwarzenegger will be under pressure to reconsider.

“He’s going to have to decide whether he is with families and seniors and uninsured patients or with the big drug companies that price gouge and are among the most profitable corporations in the world,” Mr. Wright said.

One of the two bills would require the state to set up a Web site to help consumers find and buy Canadian imports; the second would establish another site warning of unsafe sources for purchasing drugs from Canada.

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