This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, October 20, 2003, that was edited for clarity.
Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Imagine, if you will, a stranger swiping an ice cream cone right out of the hands of a little 5-year-old. Well, that’s exactly what my next guest says the government is going to do to millions of Americans here if it does crack down on the prescription drugs (search) a lot of them are getting from up there. I’m talking about Canada. The same drug north of the border could be up to 80-percent cheaper than it is in the U.S.
And doesn’t Michael Weissman know it. Michael is the president of Discount RX Mart of Canada.
Michael, good to have you.
MICHAEL WEISSMAN, DISCOUNT RX MART OF CANADA: Hi. Thanks, Neil. Thanks for having me.
CAVUTO: This disparity between drugs here in the United States and the same ones in Canada -- why is that?
WEISSMAN: There’s two reasons, OK? Canada has a socialized health-care system. They negotiate. The government negotiates the price of their prescription medications. By the way, that happens a lot around the world. Because of that, they generally pay significantly less. Also, there’s a little bit of a toss-off when the U.S. dollar is stronger against the Canadian dollar, and that can...
CAVUTO: Eighty percent or up to that. That’s a pretty huge difference.
WEISSMAN: Yes, yes. Now the real reason and the biggest reason is because they pay significantly less in Canada for their prescriptions from the drug companies.
CAVUTO: But isn’t what you’re doing illegal? The FDA doesn’t look fondly on this.
WEISSMAN: The FDA does not look fondly at all, and that’s because, in my opinion, they’re being heavily pressured by the pharmaceutical industry which has a lot to lose with re-importation of prescription drugs coming from Canada.
CAVUTO: Well, those guys don’t like you.
WEISSMAN: That’s OK.
CAVUTO: They’re saying that these people are stealing business from us illegally. Whether the laws are enforced or not is not the issue. This is illegal, and they’re making money off of it. What do you say?
WEISSMAN: Well, my simple answer to that is, if it were so illegal, then how come they have not arrested, fined, yelled at, slapped, ticketed any senior citizen in this country for buying their medications from Canada?
CAVUTO: Well, it’s the same people who download music for free, right? For a long, long time, nothing happened to them. It’s only now the recording industry and others are cracking down and saying, hey, you’re a crook.
WEISSMAN: When the pharmaceutical companies -- or when the FDA in this country cracks down on the senior citizens in this country who are trying to save money so that they can eat as well as take their prescription medications -- when they go after those people without prescription drug coverage who are on Medicare, which represents almost 40- million Americans in this country -- when they go after those people and start hassling those people, then they could come to me and tell me what I’m doing is wrong.
CAVUTO: Michael, here’s the rub. We had Beau Dietl here who, I guess, represents the pharmaceutical industry. He says you don’t know the safety or efficacy of the drugs you’re getting. Who’s to say that if you’re, you know, trying to get Paxil, Prilosec, or Lipitor, or any of these others, that it’s not been tampered with in some way and that your own health is at risk.
WEISSMAN: All right. The problem in this industry and the problem with what people like Beau Dietl says is that they lump together a very, very big industry into one pot, OK, and that’s not what I do.
What we do is we work with a legitimate licensed Canadian pharmacy. All of the medications that come from that pharmacy are direct from the drug manufacturers.
CAVUTO: How do you know that?
WEISSMAN: Because they all come in manufacturers’ sealed packages.
CAVUTO: So what if my packet isn’t sealed?
WEISSMAN: Then I wouldn’t take it. I’d send it right back to the pharmacy who...
CAVUTO: You’ve not had a problem with any customer who’s ever said, oh, my God, this stuff’s...
WEISSMAN: Not one. Not one. If you get a package that is unsealed, tampered with, I would not take it. I would send it back.
CAVUTO: All right. So how do you make your money? I know there’s a $14 packaging fee and all. Where do you get your money?
WEISSMAN: There’s a $13.99 shipping and handling fee, but that doesn’t come to me. That goes to the pharmacy.
CAVUTO: So how do you get your money?
WEISSMAN: I get paid a commission from the pharmacy in Canada strictly as a middleman.
CAVUTO: And what is that? Eight to 10 percent?
WEISSMAN: About 10 percent. It doesn’t amount to a whole lot of money.
CAVUTO: All right. So let’s say an $80 drug. You’re getting...
WEISSMAN: Eight dollars.
CAVUTO: Bottom line your patients, or customers are getting it a lot cheaper than they would in the U.S.
WEISSMAN: My customers are generally paying about 50 percent on what they would be paying in the United States or paying in Canada, and then I get my commission off of that lower number. So it’s not a home run.
CAVUTO: And your business is booming.
WEISSMAN: Business is very good, but even being very good and helping a lot of people, you’re not talking about huge amounts of money.
CAVUTO: But it’s just a matter of time, is it not, before the FDA comes knocking on your door and says, hey, you know, you shouldn’t be doing this?