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Consumer Protection Group Opposes Drug Importation Bill

Partnership for Safe Medicines speaks clearly about the dangers of importing prescription drugs from Canada in its statement regarding the proposed “Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act” sponsored by Senators Dorgan (D-ND), Snowe (R-ME), McCain (R-AZ) and Stabenow (D-MI), which would allow for prescription drug importation.

Partnership for Safe Medicines speaks clearly about the dangers of importing prescription drugs from Canada

WASHINGTON—The Partnership for Safe Medicines, a group of organizations and individuals dedicated to protecting consumers from counterfeit medicines, issued the following statement regarding the proposed "Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act" sponsored by Senators Dorgan (D-ND), Snowe (R-ME), McCain (R-AZ) and Stabenow (D-MI), which would allow for prescription drug importation.

As today's economy has more and more people working to reduce costs, it is easy to understand why both consumers and policymakers look to drug importation as a way to save money.  But importing drugs from other countries, including Canada is not the solution.  Drug importation programs, including government sponsored programs, encourage Americans to gamble with their health, especially vulnerable patient populations, such as minorities, seniors and fixed income patients.

The United States has one of the safest drug supplies in the world because its pharmaceutical supply system is "closed."  Anytime Americans venture outside of the currently closed system, they risk their own health and welfare. They have no way of knowing whether the products they are purchasing are regulated similarly, differently, or not all. 

Advocates for drug importation believe that drugs purchased from countries such as Canada and Britain are subject to strict health regulations and oversight and are therefore safe.  This is a dangerous misconception because Canadian regulators do not carefully scrutinize drugs bound for the United States.  There is also a clear link between drug importation laws and counterfeit drugs.  Policymakers need only to look at Britain to see how counterfeit drugs infiltrated its national drug supply in 2007 using parallel trade agreements and lead to four emergency recalls.

The Partnership for Safe Medicines urges President Obama, Congress and policymakers to focus on creating substantive programs that protect the nation’s drug supply to maintain access to safe medicines.  The risks of policy failure fall upon this country's most vulnerable and traditionally underserved minorities.  Proposing risky, politically expedient policies—whose savings are virtually nonexistent according to the Congressional Budget Office and independent academic analysis and that are resisted by citizens of countries like Canada—wastes the time and money that could be used to substantively address the difficult problem of access to medicines.

In the interim, there are ways of reducing drug costs that are listed in detail at www.SafeMedicines.org that do not risk the patients’ health.  These programs should be publicized and used to their fullest extent, particularly during these hard economic times.  But policies risking health of American citizens and their families should never be an option.  Because when it comes to the drug supply, safety is no accident.

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About the Partnerships for Safe Medicines
The Partnership for Safe Medicines is a group of organizations and individuals that have policies, procedures, or programs to protect consumers from counterfeit or contraband medicines.  To join us in our stand against counterfeit drugs or obtain your own copy of the Principles for Drug Safety doctrine, please visit
www.SafeMedicines.org. 

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