Hill Editorial Warns of Health Risks Resulting from Drug Importation Proposals

Ronald Piervincenzi, CEO of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention describes the dangerous flaws in any plan to open up U.S. borders to wholesale prescription medication importation from Canada.

In an editorial piece published in The Hill, Ronald Piervincenzi, head of the scientific nonprofit organization charged with setting effectiveness and purity standards for prescription medication worldwide argues,  “One of the proposals on the table – importation of medicines from Canada – poses dangerous patient risks.”

Mr. Piervincenzi points out that four former FDA commissioners have come out against drug importation, writing directly to Congress to express their concerns.

He makes the case that patient safety concerns are real, and notes “a staggering 85 percent of drugs sold from ‘Canadian’ pharmacy websites to U.S. patients are not actually from Canada, according to the FDA.”

He also points out that “drugs exported from Canada that are not intended for the U.S. market – regardless of where they were made — are not inspected for safety and quality by Canadian authorities before they are shipped to the U.S.”

Other problems Mr. Piervincenzi sees with drug importation include risks of medication errors, a complete lack of safeguards on imported medications, and that generic drugs are already cheaper in the U.S. than the same drugs for sale in Canada.

He also warns “Canada does not have the manufacturing or supply chain capacity to supply even a small percentage of the U.S. market (the U.S. is nearly 10 times as populous as Canada). Shipping more drug products to the U.S. would risk serious drug shortages for the Canadian population and would certainly be politically unsustainable for Canadians.”

He describes the U.S. drug supply chain as it currently exists, “It is widely recognized that our systems and standards in the U.S. have yielded the safest and most consistent high-quality drug supply in the world. We too often take this for granted.”

The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention plays a huge part in that safety. Their mission makes this abundantly clear: “The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide. USP’s drug standards are enforceable in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration, and these standards are used in more than 140 countries.”

Read Ronald Piervincenzi’s complete editorial.

Learn more about the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention.