Regarding "Europe's Drug Import Example" [letters, Sept. 30], on the practice of parallel trade (reimporting) of prescription drugs in Europe and the potential for trade with the United States:

First, a University of York study in Britain reported that direct savings from the parallel trade of pharmaceutical products in 2002 were estimated as 631 million euros for the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark -- a far cry from the "slightly more than $100 million" (about 80 million euros) that Panos Kanavos reported in his letter.

Second, while Mr. Kanavos found that the savings were mostly reaped by the companies that repackaged the drugs, the York report found that savings were either passed "to the reimburser, the patient if co-payment is involved, or to the pharmacist."

Perhaps Mr. Kanavos found a lack of savings because reimportation has resulted in manufacturers lowering their prices, as the York report found. But in Germany alone, the report found direct savings of 194 million euros from parallel trade, most of which benefited the patient.

Without question, opening pharmaceutical markets will lower prescription drug costs for American consumers.

The United States is expected to spend about $200 billion on prescription drugs this year. Open markets could yield savings of billions for Americans.


U.S. Representative (R-Minn.)