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.
The bills before Congress would remove many of the license and oversight requirements on the drugs imported into the United States by lifting those barriers, inviting an influx of bogus pharmaceutical products from the same crime rings that are selling these drugs in other countries around the world that would love better access to the U.S. market.
Law enforcement would inevitably be tasked with policing the problem, at a time when most prosecutors and law enforcement officials have their hands full with the growing opioid crisis. One of the biggest killers is fentanyl, a potent, synthetic opioid pain medication that is being laced into counterfeit pills.
This editorial by Aliyah N. Horton, the executive director of the Maryland Pharmacists Association, was published in the Baltimore Sun on July 19, 2017.
In it, Horton points out the “huge public health risk” posed by buying imported drugs, and urges legislators to vote against unsafe drug importation, and to “seek other avenues to improve patient access, safety and drug affordability.”
In a July 14, 2017 editorial for STAT, Jim Greenwood, the president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), reminds us that the safety risks of buying prescription medicines from other countries are real:
“The debate about drug importation has been underway for decades. Those who support it have never advanced a responsible plan that would provide the same level of health and safety protections that the FDA has delivered for decades. Its rigorous system of rules and protocols ensure that prescription drugs in this country are safe and effective. It protects those high standards by preventing the sale of imported prescription drugs that are not approved for use in the U.S.”
A few years ago, Maine introduced similar legislation that allowed patients to buy drugs from foreign pharmacies. We, too, wanted to provide patients with lower-cost medicines.
It proved to be a big mistake. Instead of getting drugs from Canada, we got dangerous and ineffective counterfeit pills from other countries. Maine’s disastrous experience with counterfeit Canadian drug imports should serve as a lesson to our lawmakers to say no to drug importation legislation.
During my law enforcement career, spanning four decades, I have spent a great deal of time investigating crimes related to illegal drug use and trafficking. The growing scourge of methamphetamine and opioid use is unlike other crimes I have prosecuted in the past. It has literally changed the way we protect our citizens and officers. In addition to the traditional equipment carried by an officer, they must now equip themselves with Naloxone to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose, thusly, amending our existing policies has become necessary.
In the midst of a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction fueled by illicit smuggling of drugs from overseas, and coming on the heels of a year in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over $73 million worth of counterfeit medicines at our nation’s ports, some members of Congress have suggested a novel approach to these growing threats: “opening the floodgates.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer published this editorial by George M. Karavetsos, a partner with the global law form DLA Piper, and former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations.
Proposed Drug Importation Law Will Worsen U.S. Opioid Epidemic
More than 60,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine, caused one-fifth of those fatalities. Local law enforcement and health professionals are working at a feverish pace to prevent fatal overdoses. Even librarians in drug-plagued neighborhoods . . .
Investor’s Business Daily published this editorial by D. Wayne Taylor, Executive Director of the Cameron Institute, a not-for-profit, public policy think tank specializing in the independent study of health, social and economic issues both in Canada and around the world.
On June 23, 2017, MorningConsult published this editorial by Garfield Clunie and Richard Williams. Clunie is the chairman of the board of the National Medical Association, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that represents African American physicians and their patients. Williams is the organization’s president.