HHS's Federal Action Plan for Drug Importation, 2019

Synopsis:

On December 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released proposed regulations for importation by pharmacists and wholesalers (Pathway #1) or by manufacturers (Pathway #2).

Current status:

HHS's comment period for RIN 0910-AI45 ended on March 9th. Read PSM's summary of the results here.

What you can do now:

Because these programs have never sustainably saved money, and have endangered Americans every time they've been attempted, PSM is taking a number of actions to fight for patient safety. As we develop opportunities to speak up for safety, we'll put these here.

How should we evaluate this program?

Until July 2019, every head of Health and Human Services and the FDA since 2003 has refused to certify the safety of drug importation. Many—including Alex Azar, former FDA Commissioner and Trump appointee Scott Gottlieb, and his four immediate predecessors—have explicitly criticized these proposals as unsafe, unimplementable, and unlikely to save money.

HHS and FDA hasn't implemented its proposals yet so there's no way to evaluate whether they save money or keep patients safe. However previous programs in Maine, Illinois, and Minnesota all shut down because they didn't save the money promised. They all had safety lapses as well.

Planning documents

HHS/FDA announces the Safe Importation Action Plan. July 31, 2019

Section 804 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which outlines the method by which the Federal government may import medicine from Canada.

Background / resources

Just learning about foreign drug importation proposals? Start with some of these resources that outline the safety issues.

PSM Materials:

Challenges to importation:

Coverage:

 

Op-eds from the Experts

Executive Director of Colon Cancer Association Warns Against “Ill-Considered Drug Importation Scheme”

March 23, 2020

This editorial by Andrew Spiegel was published in The International Business Times on March 23, 2020. Mr. Spiegel is executive director of the Global Colon Cancer Association and Chair of the World Patient Alliance. President Trump, Price Controls Can’t Combat Coronavirus The U.S. outbreak of novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has quickly evolved into a national nightmare.…

photo of Ujjal Dosanjh

Canadian drug importation is “an economic fantasy,” former Canadian health minister says.

March 2, 2020

In this editorial in The Globe and Mail, Ujjal Dosanjh, formerly a federal minister of health and a premier of British Columbia, explains that drug manufacturers have no incentive to sell Canadian provinces more medicine to fill the needs of U.S. residents. Importation will lead to drug shortages in Canada and counterfeit drug trafficking to the U.S.

Canadian health law experts predict: Canada won’t end up as the drugstore to the U.S.

January 16, 2020

This editorial by David C. Rosenbaum and Dara Jospé was published in the Financial Post on January 16, 2020. Rosenbaum is a partner of the law firm Fasken. Jospé is an associate for the same company.

Photo of Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera

Lowering prices “must not happen at the expense of public safety,” Utah sheriff says

December 3, 2019

This editorial by Rosie Rivera was published in The Salt Lake Tribune on December 3, 2019. Rivera is the sheriff of Salt Lake County.

photo of the author, C. Michael White

Pharmacy professor: buying prescription drugs from Canada “risky in terms of quality and safety”

September 27, 2019

This editorial by C. Michael White was published in The Conversation on September 27, 2019. White is a professor and head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice for the University of Connecticut.

Cancer Center Pharmacist in Iowa Worries Drug Importation Will Harm His Patients

August 27, 2019

This editorial by Dana McDougall was published in The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier on August 26, 2019. Mr. McDougall, Pharm.D., BCPS, is a pharmacist with the Covenant Cancer Treatment Center in Waterloo, Iowa.

Canadian Physician Warns that American Drug Importation is Bad for Canada

August 13, 2019

This editorial by Dr. Charles S. Shaver was published in The Hamilton Spectator on August 11, 2019. Dr. Shaver i a practicing physician in Ottawa. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Shaver is also past chair of the section on general internal medicine of the Ontario Medical Association.

Economist Warns that Federal Drug Importation is Folly

August 7, 2019

This editorial by Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D. appeared in Forbes on August 7, 2019. Dr. Winegarden is the Managing Editor for EconoSTATS and a senior Fellow in Business and Economics at the Pacific Research Institute.

Policy Expert: “Even if Canada were a willing participant, the U.S. can’t ensure the safety of these drugs.”

August 7, 2019

In this editorial, which was published in The Washington Examiner on August 5, 2019, Pacific Research Institute CEO Sally Pipes explains that ” importing prescription drugs would put our lives in danger.”

Importation Won’t Save Money, warn Citizens Against Government Waste

August 2, 2019

In this July 31, 2019 blog post on the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) website, CAGW Director of Health and Science Policy Elizabeth Wright questions the questions the effectiveness and safety of government importation schemes.

Reform domain name policy to stop COVID-19 and other healthcare scams

On May 8, 2020,  PSM wrote Congressional leaders in the House and Senate urging them to require domain name sellers to suspend and lock websites that facilitate COVID-19 and other health fraud, and re-open registration information so that law enforcement can pursue criminals using websites to take advantage of the public.

PSM Coverage:

Minnesota’s experiment with drug importation: RxConnect 2003-2010

March 11, 2019

“Canadian Shelves Would Run Dry” Warns Canadian Health Economist about U.S. Proposals to Raid Canadian Drug Supply

February 21, 2019

In Annual Hill Briefing, Law Enforcement Authorities and Current and Former DEA Agents Share Details on Danger Posed by Counterfeit Drugs and Illicit Fentanyl Imports

February 20, 2019

Over Four Years After Being Indicted, CEO of Unlicensed Canadian Wholesaler Sentenced

February 11, 2019

Tennessee Pair Found With 10,000 Alprazolam Pills In Their Home

February 6, 2019

Partnership For Safe Medicines 2019 Congressional Briefings

February 4, 2019

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh Updates His 2017 Report on the Threat of Congressional Drug Importation Proposals

February 4, 2019

Partnership for Safe Medicines’ Statement on New Drug Importation Bills

January 10, 2019

Thousands of Fake Pills Purchased From China Shipped To Man In New York State

December 19, 2018

Police Seized Over 42,000 Illegal, Misbranded, and Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals From A Los Angeles Home

November 30, 2018

Mexican Pharmacies Are Not The Best Place For Medicare Recipients To Lower Their Prescription Costs

November 16, 2018

Drug importation is not a new idea.

November 7, 2018

CNN Warns that Fake Drugs are a Global Industry That Puts Your Life at Risk

November 5, 2018

PSM’s letter asking the President and Congress to protect Americans from dangerous, imported medicines

October 31, 2018

Drug Importation and the Deadly Challenge of Screening 275 Million Packages a Year

October 30, 2018