Maine Pharmacist Amelia Arnold at the Interchange 2013

Amelia Arnold Interchange 2013

Ms. Arnold spoke at Interchange 2013 about the events in her state that resulted in the passage of a controversial law that allows non-FDA approved medication to be imported from unregulated sources into the state of Maine.

At the heart of this recent law is a Canadian business called CanaRX that Ms. Arnold stated “came into Maine with a marketing scheme that bowled over legislators and employees unions.”

She pointed out that CanaRX’s claim that their pharmaceuticals are only sourced from Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia hides the fact that the drugs may originate far from these countries. She went on to say that these drug imports are not being tested or verified by any Maine medical professional, stating, “This legislation gives Maine Pharmacy Association no control to oversee CanaRX operations.”

As she explained to PBS during a recent interview, “Who's going to find out that the pharmacy's legitimate? Those companies can participate in what we call parallel importation. So they can get their drugs from other countries. So just because it's coming into the U.S. from Canada doesn't mean that it started in Canada.”

Ms. Arnold is also a member of the Maine Pharmacy Association, whose statement on Maine’s drug importation law makes quite clear the dangers posed to consumers by such legislation:

“Despite our best efforts to educate lawmakers about the real public health risks of illegal Rx drug importation, the Maine 126th legislature passed a bill, LD 171, which allows an unlicensed 'entity' (e.g., a broker in another country) to import Rx drugs from Canada, UK and Northern Ireland, Australia or New Zealand into Maine. This 'entity' is 'exempt from licensure' and thus any regulatory oversight. This new law does not provide patients in Maine with any recourse if a counterfeit or adulterated prescription drug is shipped to their home. The scope of this new law could even include controlled, addictive Rx drugs. Patients lives are at risk.”

By S. Imber