Over 100 Organizations Representing Law Enforcement Officers, Healthcare Professionals, Patient Advocates Urge White House and Congress to Reject Prescription Drug Importation
In Letter to President, Lawmakers, Groups Insist Opening U.S. Drug Supply Chain to Non-FDA-Approved Medications Will Endanger Americans
WASHINGTON (April 8, 2019) – As members of Congress and leaders in the executive branch consider steps to allow wholesale importation of prescription medications, organizations representing consumers, employers, healthcare professionals, patients, and law enforcement officers, among others, are insisting that such proposals, if implemented, would endanger the health and safety of the communities throughout the country.
In a letter to President Trump and all members of Congress, the more than 100 organizations wrote that “Historically, attempts to import drugs from ‘safe countries’ like Canada result in American getting counterfeit, substandard, or black market medications.” The groups point out, in the letter, that the notion of Canada as a source for safe medications is a fallacy because there is no regulatory or safety apparatus to detect and intercept counterfeit products being trans-shipped through Canada from originating sites like China or India. “There is no oversight, safety enforcement, or United States FDA protection for medication obtained from foreign entities unlicensed in the United States,” they wrote. “Health Canada does not inspect, regulate, or supervise the medication from other countries that Canadian companies sell to Americans because they aren’t bringing those medicines into the Canadian drug supply.” The letter makes several other significant points regarding the dangers inherent in drug importation:
- Counterfeit medicines, even if they don’t contain deadly additives like lethal doses of fentanyl, can be a death sentence for patients struggling with serious illnesses. They write, “For individuals with HIV, these counterfeit medicines can impact viral suppression and create life-long treatment resistance. For those battling cancer, a counterfeit medication means that tumors grow unchecked and the patient’s fight against cancer is thwarted by a crime they may never detect.”
- Drug importation will worsen the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis and endanger law enforcement. To date, fentanyl-laced counterfeit medications have been found in 45 states and killed Americans in 26 of those states. “Increasing the importation of black market medical products will make it harder to catch these dangerous products at the border, causing more American deaths,” they wrote.
- International drug counterfeiters will try to exploit a United States market made more vulnerable by drug importation policies because they face comparably little risk in doing so. The organizations pointed out that it is extremely difficult to bring global counterfeiters to this country to face trial and we do not have an extradition treaty with China, home to many of the world’s leading drug counterfeiters and fentanyl exporters.
The letter reminds the president and members of Congress that four previous FDA commissioners have studied drug importation and determined that American patient safety would be compromised. Supply chain safety improvements implemented over the past decade would be severely disrupted by drug importation from unregulated foreign entities. “The breadth of organizations that have signed this letter sends a strong signal to Washington regarding the importance of maintaining our nation’s closed and safe drug supply,” said Shabbir Imber Safdar, executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines. “There is a heightened counterfeit drug problem in the world today. It is critical that our government not make the United States, and millions of Americans, more vulnerable to it.”
For a copy of the letter, visit www.safemedicines.org.
Nonprofit organizations interested in signing onto the letter may submit their information.
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.