Opinion: Saving money at what cost?

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Angela Loiacono

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has come to the rescue once more. The people of Illinois should really tip their hats to this man. Or at least that’s what he thinks. Sure, he’s got a warm smile, and when he throws on a Cubs uniform, he becomes everybody’s friend. But his judgment is a little off lately – especially when it comes to his new drug program.

While paging through the opinions section of The Daily Herald last week, I came across an article written by a disgruntled Chuck Goudie. Goudie, the chief investigative reporter at ABC-7 in Chicago, recently informed the public of Blagojevich’s shortcomings. While the state complains of decreased funding and budget cuts, Blagojevich is rumored to have employed 38 personal bodyguards, some of who are raking in six figures. Apparently, keeping tabs on the family stroller is now under the job description of a large, muscular bodyguard.

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Goudie’s ABC-7 I-Team also exposed the misconduct of some of Blagojevich’s men. High-speed accidents and misuse of state vehicles topped the list. If you really want to know where your state money is going, follow Blagojevich to an airport across the country. Apparently, he feels the need to be picked up by Illinois police cars, complete with full security.

But these small, laughable actions are just icing on the cake. If you really want to experience his recurring abuse of power and poor judgment, sign up for the I-SaveRx program. Offering prescription medication to residents in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas, the program imports drugs from Canada, Britain and Ireland. I-SaveRx claims to save its customers 25 to 50 percent off their prescription drugs through their mail-order system. Sounds good, right? Just wait until you read the fine print.

After the Food and Drug Administration investigated some Canadian drug wholesalers, they found that some commonly prescribed drugs were “fake, substandard and potentially dangerous.” Eager to sign up now? In subsequent investigations, the FDA found a disturbing pattern of actions by these companies that resulted in potentially hazardous errors. While the FDA disapproves of reimported drugs, because they can’t guarantee that they are safe to use, Blagojevich is parading around Illinois passing out sign-up sheets.

I’d love to know how Blagojevich got around laws that keep such hazardous drugs out of the hands of U.S. citizens in the first place. A message from the FDA stated, “Virtually every shipment of prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies to U.S. consumers violates the (Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act).”

While Blagojevich is busy telling us that health inspectors have approved the drug suppliers for the state program, the FDA is saying that “it is extremely unlikely that any pharmacy located in Canada could ensure that all of the applicable legal requirements are met.”

Blagojevich is dancing on the thin line of FDA laws. He’s used his power to thwart the complications that come with the importation of foreign drugs. But really, he only is detracting from the business of pharmacies across the state. Since when is outsourcing prescriptions – and the associated business of Illinois pharmacies – a good idea? Because prescription drugs are subsidized by the government in Canada, they are price-controlled and therefore cheaper than in the United States. Wholesalers and pharmacies across the nation don’t have the option of buying drugs from foreign countries. They would be breaking the law. Yet, the governor is sidestepping this same law so he can import potentially hazardous drugs for Illinois residents.

In his fifth executive order after being elected governor, Blagojevich mandated ethics training for all state employees. Does that include him?

Angela Loiacono is a sophomore in LAS. Her column runs Fridays. She can be reached at [email protected]