Washington (July 19, 2018) – Shabbir Imber Safdar, executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, released the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services to create a drug importation working group at FDA:
“We are deeply concerned about today’s announcement, particularly given the deaths of Americans in at least 26 states over the last two years due to fentanyl-laced counterfeit medications. As a country, we simply cannot let down our guard at a time when illegally-imported fentanyl is infiltrating our drug supply. We agree with Secretary Azar’s recent characterization of legalized importation as a ‘gimmick.’ Allowing any form of drug importation exposes Americans to greater risk and sets a dangerous precedent.
“Case in point is the shutdown this week of CanadaDrugs.com, a criminal organization that was the subject of both a federal investigation and conviction for its role in a multi-national, multi-million dollar counterfeit cancer drug ring. Rather than making it easier for the next Canada Drugs to send counterfeit generic drugs across the border, we should be taking steps to crack down on the tens of thousands of illegal pharmacies and counterfeit manufacturers that prey upon Americans.
“Counterfeiting is becoming easier and more commonplace as a result of the financial gain involved. To date, fentanyl-laced counterfeit medications have been found in 44 states. If we can’t control this crisis within our own borders, we need to ask how we’re going to regulate a borderless global epidemic that law enforcement has been pursuing and documenting for decades. Far too often, this illegal trade is driven by criminal drug rings like the Sinaloa Cartel. U.S. law enforcement recent seized 44 pounds of illicit fentanyl from the cartel – enough to kill more than 10 million people.
“Finally, as has been widely reported, former FDA Commissioners from both Democratic and Republican Administrations have repeatedly rejected the idea of legalizing drug importation. As the problem has only worsened in subsequent years, we urge the administration to maintain its longstanding policy on this issue. We look forward to sharing our perspective, experience and data with the administration in the days and weeks ahead.”
About the Partnership for Safe Medicines
The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) is a public health group comprised of nearly 70 non-profit organizations that are committed to the safety of prescription drugs and protecting consumers against counterfeit, substandard or otherwise unsafe medicines. To learn more, visit www.safemedicines.org.