National Pharmacy Organizations Ask HHS Secretary Azar for Clarity on Drug Importation Proposals
On June 24, 2019, the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA), along with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) wrote a joint letter to U.S. Health and Human Services (HSS) Secretary Alex Azar questioning the wisdom of poorly thought-out importation proposals.
The letter noted it expects recently passed state laws to be submitted to the Secretary for approval. All three organizations advocate for efforts to “provide Americans access to quality, safe, effective, and affordable prescription drugs, but do not believe that importation is a viable route to achieve this goal.” The letter warns that bypassing of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s regulatory authority and enforcement powers will pose “unreasonable risks to patients.”
The organizations warn that the proposals, despite best intentions, are riddled with unsolved complications that will derail the programs with unexpected costs and safety issues:
Despite the good intentions of policymakers who offer prescription drug importation as a solution to high drug costs, we are concerned that difficulty in quantifying the risks to patient safety, therapy outcomes, security demands, patient expenditures and supply chain disruptions, among other issues, will result in severe underestimation of importation-related costs. As noted in past statements... we believe importation of non-FDA approved drugs or medications provided by questionable sources has the potential to harm patients, increase out-of-pocket costs for patients, and undermine key efforts underway to enhance the safety and quality of health care delivery for all Americans.
NASPA, APhA, and NACDS end by urging Secretary Azar to provide a comprehensive review of importation proposals, including input from the public and healthcare stakeholders in both the United States and Canada.