Op-eds: Canadian and American regulators, law enforcement and patient advocates oppose drug importation
Since 2000, every head of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has opposed drug importation because the benefits that might be gained are far outweighed by the many dangers. Law enforcement, patient advocates, pharmacy groups, and regulators agree.
In her October 18, 2017 editorial for the Las Vegas Sun, Liz MacMenamin, vice president of government affairs for the Retail Association of Nevada, offers facts about drug importation:
Though this may appear as a simple and innocent fix to the problem of high drug prices, the reality is starkly different. Importation threatens the safety of all Americans and the security of the United States’ airtight pharmaceutical quality control system.
In this editorial, which was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on October 16th, Charlie Cichon, the executive director of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, warns Pennsylvanians about the dangers of fentanyl and discusses legislators’ efforts to protect them from the deadly imported drug.
As PSM’s Board President, Dr. Marv Shepherd, wrote in an editorial for the Washington Examiner that was published on October 10, 2017, opening the United States to unregulated, imported drugs will offer fentanyl traffickers even more access to Americans:
“The reality is that criminals throughout the illegal supply chain from China to the streets of U.S. cities are making money at the cost of American lives. We need to be taking steps to eliminate illegal fentanyl from our communities, not providing new avenues for those who want to see just the opposite happen.”
Paul Honeman is a former Anchorage Assemblyman representing East Anchorage. He also is a retired Anchorage Police Department Lieutenant. In this September 28, 2017 editorial in The Bristol Bay Times, he highlights the dangers posed by drug importation and reminds everyone why it is currently banned…
CNN’s September 25, 2017 Healthcare Town Hall was an opportunity for prominent senators to share important ideas about ways to improve Americans’ lives, but it also included some erroneous statements about drug importation. PSM’s Board President, Dr. Marv Shepherd, sent this letter on September 29 to clarify those issues.
The Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association sent a letter to Senator Heller explaining their reasons for opposing S. 469, the bill that would allow drug importation…
Russell Withers, general counsel at the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute in Austin, believes that drug importation is “neither affordable nor safe.” In a September 20, 2017 editorial in the Austin-American Statesman , he argues that “it would hurt U.S. and Texas businesses, workers and patients’ and urges Texan congress members to oppose it.
Former FBI agent Eric O’Neill warned about the dangers of drug importation in Inside Sources on September 20, 2017. “The lull of normalcy,” he writes, “masks very real threats to a relatively well-functioning system, including counterfeiting, fraud and powerful narcotics in the wrong hands…while costs are important, we shouldn’t circumvent the safeguards that keep our medicines safe and reliable.”
In early July, European authorities reported that counterfeit versions of Omnitrope, a drug containing human growth hormone, were found in France, Denmark, and Mexico. The counterfeit Omnitrope was designed to look like it was made by a large drug manufacturer, but it contained no active ingredient. Shortly thereafter, German authorities announced that a fake version of a schizophrenia drug, Xeplion, was discovered in Germany. The Xeplion was also a knock-off, mimicking packaging used in Bulgaria and Romania.
These incidents are the latest in a stream of reports about counterfeit drugs throughout Europe. The problem lies in lax security of the supply chain — distributors, middlemen and wholesalers between the drug maker and the consumer. Despite ongoing problems with the EU drug supply chain, Congress is currently considering a bill that would open the U.S. to imports from the EU and elsewhere. We can’t have a serious debate about drug importation without understanding what is going on in Europe.
Daniel R. Salter is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency who has witnessed firsthand the devastation that fentanyl is causing to communities and the strain it is putting on law enforcement resources in Georgia…