Partnership for Safe Medicines’ Statement on New Drug Importation Bills
Washington, D.C. (January 10, 2019) – Marv Shepherd, President of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, released the following statement today in response to new legislation, the “Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act,” and the “Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2019” which would allow medicines to be imported into the United States from foreign countries:
“Proposals like this fail to recognize the devastating impact that foreign drug importation has on the lives of everyday Americans, their families, and their communities. Counterfeit medicines laced with fentanyl are already being imported into the United States and finding their way to individuals who believe the drugs to be legitimate. Since 2015, counterfeit pills made with fentanyl have killed Americans in 29 states, and have been found in 46 states. According to the CDC, synthetic opioids like fentanyl were the number one factor in overdoses as of 2017. This is a worsening health crisis.
“Yet, instead of addressing this problem, this new legislation would exacerbate it. Opening America’s drug supply chain to non-FDA approved, substandard, or counterfeit substances will only lead to greater loss of life. It is a fallacy to suggest, as drug importation advocates have, that we can safely import medications from close allies like Canada. In fact, Canada is frequently a transfer point for drugs that are manufactured and packaged in other parts of the world, leaving U.S. authorities with no certainty as to how those products were made or what ingredients they contain.
“Additionally, Canada is experiencing its own counterfeit problem. Recently police in the city of Edmonton seized over 130,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and equipment capable of producing 10,000 fake pills per hour. Health Canada announced they are in the midst of a fentanyl crisis and that counterfeit pills made with fentanyl are a major factor.
“FDA Commissioner Gottlieb recently stated that 86 percent of the packages FDA inspectors seized in 2017 contained sub-standard and counterfeit drugs. The problem of dangerous counterfeits is very real and importation would create a legitimate pathway for these dangerous medications.
“Currently, our regulatory and law enforcement agencies do not have the capacity to detect and seize all of the counterfeit drugs moving through the black market. If we move toward a system that freely allows the importation of drugs from foreign sources, we will undoubtedly see a sharp increase in counterfeits and the threat they pose to our lives and health.
“Our priority must be to strengthen our drug supply chain and become more effective at keeping counterfeit drugs from crossing our borders. Allowing drug importation will move us in a wrong, and undoubtedly tragic, direction. Lawmakers must understand that the risks involved in drug importation far outweigh any imagined benefits.”
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.