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 Washington Post reports that the four most recent FDA commissioners have warned Congress that American patients will suffer if they import drugs from other countries, citing fake, substandard and contaminated drugs as potential consequences.
On Tuesday, February 28, Allan Coukell, Senior Director of Health Programs for the Pew Charitable Trusts, wrote Senator Bernie Sanders to ask that he not undermine safety protections for medication with the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act.
In 2016, the American Medical Association reaffirmed its longheld opposition to drug importation through two policy statements. The first, “Prescription Drug Importation and Patient Safety D-100.983,” supports only the importation of FDA-approved medicines. The second, “Federal Regulation and Computerized Tracking of Pharmaceuticals During Shipping and Handling from Manufacture Until Ultimately Received by Patient D-100.985,” promised to actively oppose drug diversion, illegal importation, and drug counterfeiting.
In 2016, The Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance wrote a letter asking American “not to raid Canada’s pharmacies to try and buy cheaper medicines.” “Our newspapers,” they wrote, “are filled every day with stories of patients struggling to get medicines they are prescribed because we have barely enough drug supply to meet our needs. Shortages of medications across all therapeutic types have been happening more and more frequently, and Canadian patients are endangered by them.”
In May 2004, anesthesiologist and American Medical Association trustee Rebecca J. Patchin, MD spoke before the Department of Health and Human Services Task Force on Drug Importation to express concern about the safety and reliability of imported drugs.