The Partnership for Safe Medicines Letter to Congress – February 28, 2017

The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) today sent a letter to all members of Congress urging them to continue protecting Americans and stand against efforts that would allow substandard and even dangerous counterfeit medicines to flow freely across U.S. borders and into the hands of the American people. The letter, signed by nearly 170 groups, is reprinted in full below.  [UPDATE: List of signatories updated as of March 7, 2017.  See below.]

February 28, 2017

Dear Congress,

As a coalition whose outreach and operations involve educating health care workers and patients in all fifty states, and whose membership is comprised of more than 60 organizations committed to the safety of prescription drugs and protecting U.S. consumers against counterfeit, substandard or otherwise unsafe medicines, the Partnership for Safe Medicines, its members and other interested stakeholders are deeply concerned that importation proposals will undermine America’s existing and proposed drug safety protocols.

Whether offered broadly or for a narrow set of medications, there’s never a good time to sacrifice safety. No patient is served well by a drug from an unknown source, that has been stored under unknown conditions, and which contains unknown ingredients because it passed through unlicensed, foreign middlemen who operate beyond U.S. law.

Drug importation advocates believe that drugs purchased from countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom are safe because of their strict health regulations. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. For example, many customers of “Canadian pharmacies” report getting their shipments straight from Pakistan, India, and Turkey. Additionally, a large share of medicines that flow through Canada are counterfeit, and while it may seem safe to import medicines from developed countries like Canada and Western Europe, those medicines may have originated from countries all over the world.

Canadian law does not prohibit the transshipment of drugs from any country – including from countries with low manufacturing standards – into Canada and then on to the U.S. In fact, Canadian law explicitly states that the Canadian equivalent to the FDA does not have to inspect drugs for export.

Moreover, Canadian pharmacists aren’t allowed to dispense to Americans without a Canadian physician’s prescription.
Proposals allowing importation would undermine nearly two decades of drug safety policy. Large volume importation of prescription drugs could be permitted under current law only if the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary was willing to certify that imported drugs "pose no additional risk to the public's health and safety, and result in a significant reduction in the cost of covered products to the American consumer." Recent HHS Secretaries have not been willing to certify such large scale importation as of no significant risk to the public health or that any potential cost savings would outweigh the resources that would be required to ensure the safety and efficacy of any imported products. We urge you to focus on protecting the nation’s drug supply to maintain access to safe medicines for US patients.

With very best regards,

Marv Shepherd, PhD
President, Partnership for Safe Medicines
Professor Emeritus
College of Pharmacy
University of Texas
Austin, TX 78712

UPDATE March 7, 2017: The list of signatories has been updated as of today.

National Organization Signatories

Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy
Action Cystic Fibrosis
Advocates for Responsible Care
Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global)
Alliance for the Adoption of Innovations in Medicine (Aimed Alliance)
Alzheimer's & Dementia Resource Center
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)
American Pharmacists Association
Association for Accessible Medicines, formerly GPhA
Caregiver Action Network
Center for Healthcare Innovation
Center for Medicine in the Public Interest
Children's Cause for Cancer Advocacy
Colon Cancer Alliance
Community Access National Network
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Foundation
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Healthcare Distribution Alliance
Healthcare Leadership Council
International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition
International Federation of Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Diseases With Arthritis As a Major Component
Kidney Cancer Association
Lung Cancer Alliance
Men's Health Network
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators
National Association of Hepatitis Task Forces
National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP)
National Black Justice Coalition
National Black Nurses Association
National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians
National Grange
National Hispanic Council on Aging
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Medical Association
National Minority Quality Forum
National Retail Federation
PCa (Prostate Cancer) Blue Inc.
Pharmaceutical Industry Labor Management Association
Pharmaceutical Security Institute
Prostate Conditions Education Council
Salud USA
The AIDS Institute
The Gerontological Society of America
The Latino Coalition
The Myositis Association
The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce
The Veterans Health Council
United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Vietnam Veterans of America
Wellness and Education Community Action Health Network (WECAHN)


State and Local Group Signatories

AIDS Connecticut
AIS Drug Assistance Programs Advocacy Association
Alabama Pharmacy Association
American Liver Foundation- Heartland Division
American Liver Foundation, Pacific Coast Division
Arizona Pharmacy Association
Autoimmune Advocacy Alliance
AXIS Pharmacy Northwest
Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association
California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce
California Hepatitis C Task Force
Caring Ambassadors Program
Center for Healthcare Services
Centro de mi Salud
Citrus Council
Colorado BioScience Association
Community Health Action Network
Community Health Charities of Nebraska
Community Pharmacies
Delaware Ecumenical Council on Children and Families
Delaware HIV Consortium
Des Moines WomenHeart
Dia de la Mujer Latina
DPClinical INC
Easter Seals Iowa
Easter Seals Massachusetts
Easter Seals Nebraska
Epilepsy Foundation Louisiana
Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut
Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Frannie Peabody Center
H.O.P.E.(Hepatitis,Organ Transplant,Patient,Education)
HealthCare Institute of New Jersey
Hemophilia Alliance of Maine
Illinois Pharmacists Association
Iowa Bio
Iowa State Grange
Kentucky Life Science Council
Kentucky Pharmacists Association
Lifelong AIDS Alliance
Lupus Foundation New England
Lupus Foundation of Florida
Maine Pharmacy Association
MANA, A National Latina Organization
Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association
Meals on Wheels Durham
Meals on Wheels North Carolina
Medical Oncology Association of Southern California, Inc. (MOASC)
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
Michigan Biosciences Industry Association (MichBio)
Michigan Osteopathic Association
Michigan Pharmacists Association
Minnesota Pharmacists Association
Missouri Pharmacy Association
Montana Pharmacy Association
National Alliance on Mental Illness - New Mexico
National Alliance on Mental Illness - Texas
National Alliance on Mental Illness of Washington
National Hemophilia Foundation Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter
Nebraska Pharmacists Association
New Jersey Mayors Committee on Life Sciences
New Mexico Biotechnology & Biomedical Association (NMBio)
New Mexico Pharmacists Association
North Carolina Association of Pharmacists
North Carolina Biosciences Organization
North Dakota Pharmacists Association
North Dakota Pharmacy Service Corporation
Northern Virginia (NOVA) ScriptsCentral
Ohio Pharmacists Association
Oklahoma Pharmacists Association
One in Four Chronic Health
Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association
Project ReDirect DC
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Association of New Mexico
Rio Grande Valley Diabetes Association
Scleroderma Foundation Washington Evergreen Chapter
Seniors United
Sisters Network Inc
South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization (SCBIO)
South Carolina Pharmacy Association
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
Survivors Cancer Action Network Alabama
Tennessee Men's Health Network
Tennessee Pharmacists Association`
Texas Healthcare and Bioscience Institute
Texas Life Sciences Collaboration Center
Texas Pharmacy Association
TexHealth Central Texas
The Kim Foundation
The Senior Citizens Council of Greater Augusta and the CSRA, Georgia, Inc
Utah Pharmacy Association
Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness
Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota
Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation
Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Visiting Nurse Association of Pottawattamie County
Visiting Nurse Association of the Midlands
Washington State Pharmacy Association
Wellness and Education Community Action Health Network (WECAHN)
West Virginia Pharmacists Association
Wisconsin Rheumatology Association
Wisconsin State Grange
Wound Care Clinic - ESU
Wyoming Epilepsy Association