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Seniors board the drug train

/ Source: The Associated Press

With a button pinned to her jacket that read “Drug Companies Make Me Sick,” Mildred Fruhling, 76, joined a small caravan headed to Canada by train to buy cheaper prescription drugs.

The drugs she and her husband need are available at home in Edison, N.J., at a cost of about $7,000 a year. In Canada, where she’s going with more than 20 other senior citizens, she’ll buy a three-month supply for about half the U.S. price.

“I don’t think it’s a fair scenario, so I’m going to Canada to get the word out that we have to change the system,” Fruhling said.

The caravan, dubbed “The Rx Express,” started Monday in Miami and stopped in Manhattan on Tuesday to add passengers. Participants will leave for Toronto Wednesday morning and arrive in the evening.

“It’s criminal for this country to require patients, seniors, to travel 3,000 miles to get the prescription drugs they need,” said Jerry Flannagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a nonpartisan lobbying group, which organized the trip.

The foundation wants the U.S. government to cut Medicare costs — and the expenses of patients — by negotiating bulk-purchasing agreements with pharmaceutical companies.

A similar trip was staged on the West Coast in August, when about two dozen Americans chartered a two-car train for the trip from San Diego to Vancouver.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration opposes commercial prescription drug imports, arguing that it cannot vouch for their safety. Individuals, however, can buy as much as three months of medication for personal use with a U.S. prescription.