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Drug Runners

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Moose Express makes regular trips north to Canadian pharmacies

March 13, 2002

Aaron Knight and Dick Wolff make drug runs to Canada in broad daylight. They drive right across the border, where they help their passengers purchase drugs and then drive right back. U.S. Customs does nothing about it but smile and wave them through after a few perfunctory questions. And it’s all perfectly legal.

    Better yet, they provide a great service for some who might not otherwise be able to afford prescription drugs.

Before the U.S. government lifted a ban on drug advertisement, prescription drugs were pricey. Now, the purple pill is the sponsor of news shows, and the blue pill is promoted via NASCAR. Heart pills and arthritis pills dance across the screen like dish soap once did and the cost of advertising is adding to the price of the pills you take. For those on fixed incomes and others with big medical needs, the extra cost can be crippling ... literally

    Knight and Wolff understand the hardships drug prices can cause. Both were active in North Idaho Community Express, a public transit company that carried many senior citizens and handicapped persons. They got to know their clientele, and found many of them had a hard time buying drugs; not because they were illegal, but because they were expensive.

    So, when the demand is there, Knight, Wolff, or both of them escort groups into British Columbia, where big savings await many prescription drug buyers.

    On a recent trip, as Knight’s Moose Express bounced across the frost heaves of Idaho Highway 1 toward Creston,     B.C., Wolff spoke about their mission.

    “Part of Aaron’s and my mutual belief is that we need to help people when we can. This is not for people of means. It’s for people who have needs. We’re bringing people up here who are choosing between food and medicine.”

    Consider Alice (not her real name). Alice lives in Spokane. She takes medication that is essential to her breathing. In the United States, it costs $9200 a year. In Canada, a year’s supply is $6600, Canadian. With the currency exchange at 40%, the price is $3960 U.S.     Her insurance company pays $3000 U.S. per year for that drug, so her out-of-pocket expense after buying in Canada is $960 U.S. Moose Express charges $50 for a ride from Coeur d’ Alene to Creston, and a Creston doctor examines her and writes the prescription for $30  U.S. She can buy six months supply at a time, meaning she has to go to Creston twice a year, at $80 per trip - okay, $90 with lunch.

    Do the math and find out she saves $5060 U.S. That’s a lot of food.

    On the trip to Creston, six people from Coeur d’ Alene and Spokane took advantage of Knight’s Moose Express bus and the procedure Wolff has worked out to get a prescription and buy drugs in Canada. The trip went like clockwork.

    First a short stop at a clinic for examinations, then to Pharmasave where second generation Creston druggists Steve and Mike Posnikoff fill prescriptions they knew were coming, all thanks to Wolff’s procedure.

    Steve Posnikoff spoke while waiting for the rush. “For some people, to buy some of these medications in U.S. dollars, they wouldn’t be able to afford it. Because the patent protections are different, generic versions of drugs are available sooner in Canada. Right now, Zestril (a blood pressure medication) is available in a new generic version. With the exchange and the difference in price, there is a 60% savings.”

    Wolff and Knight want people to know there are alternatives for those who need them, and their scenic excursions to Creston are just one of several. In the accompanying side-bar, Wolff outlines the procedure he has invented for getting prescriptions filled in Creston, plus five other creative ways to buy drugs for less.

And it’s all perfectly legal.


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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

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