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Illinois Vs The FDA

The governor of Illinois launched a Web site Tuesday that includes information about buying prescription drugs from Canadian companies to take advantage of lower prices there.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich also encouraged consumers to fill out an online petition in support of the proposal.

"The FDA can continue to ignore our pleas. The FDA can continue to ignore our letters. They can ignore our calls," Blagojevich said at a news conference. "But they cannot ignore the people forever."

Last month, Blagojevich proposed that Illinois should consider importing prescription drugs from Canada. But federal law prevents bringing foreign drugs into the United States and his proposal has been met with opposition by the Food and Drug Administration, which said it could be dangerous and result in health risks.

"He (Blagojevich) can target whomever he likes. But at the end of the day, Congress makes the laws and the FDA enforces the law," said FDA spokesman Peter Pitts.

The Web site includes information about the differences between U.S. and Canadian drug prices, activity in Congress on the issue and editorials in support of drug importation efforts. The site also contains a price comparison chart of drugs bought in the United States and Canada.

Brand-name drugs in Canada often cost much less because of government price controls and a favorable exchange rate. Illinois spent $340 million on prescription drugs for its employees and retirees last fiscal year, up 15 percent from a year earlier.

By Maura Kelly