The Eastern Band of Cherokees is looking into selling discount prescription drugs by mail and possibly bringing in cheaper drugs from Canada.
The proposal could allow the tribe to fill prescriptions for tribal members and for people who live outside the boundaries of Cherokee land in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The latter would require a permit from the state.
While other tribes have made money selling prescription drugs, importing drugs from Canada could open an age-old rift between a tribe's claim of sovereignty and federal laws that prohibit the imports.
Cherokee health officials have toured the pharmacy operation of the Mashantucket Pequots of Connecticut, which generates more than 15 million dollars in revenue a year selling only U-S-manufactured drugs. The tribe has been able to purchase the drugs at deeply discounted prices because of the large volume of business done by its mail-order operation.