Drug Importation in New Mexico: An Overview
In March 2020, the Governor of New Mexico signed SB1, a bill which creates a "wholesale prescription drug importation program" to be administered by New Mexico's Department of Health. The bill requires that New Mexico submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in December 2020.
New Mexico is developing a plan to submit to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for approval by December 15, 2020.
How should we evaluate this program?
The program hasn't started yet so there's no way to measure whether it saved money or kept patients safe, both promises made at the time of passage. However, the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act contains requirements for safety requirements built into any such program.
Op-eds from the Experts
On Tuesday, February 28, Allan Coukell, Senior Director of Health Programs for the Pew Charitable Trusts, wrote Senator Bernie Sanders to ask that he not undermine safety protections for medication with the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act.
In 2016, the American Medical Association reaffirmed its longheld opposition to drug importation through two policy statements. The first, “Prescription Drug Importation and Patient Safety D-100.983,” supports only the importation of FDA-approved medicines. The second, “Federal Regulation and Computerized Tracking of Pharmaceuticals During Shipping and Handling from Manufacture Until Ultimately Received by Patient D-100.985,” promised to actively oppose drug diversion, illegal importation, and drug counterfeiting.
Counterfeiting of drugs has exploded since we last had a serious debate about the importation of branded drugs. In just one year, 2013, the Pharmaceutical Security Institute reports that worldwide incidents of pharmaceutical crime rose almost 9%. During one week in 2013, the FDA, in partnership with Interpol, seized $41 million worth of illegal or counterfeit medicines, and shut down over 1,600 illegal online pharmacies. Mexico is a major global source of those fake drugs. Its illicit trade stands at an estimated $650 million per year–equal to 10% of its total drug sales.
In May 2004, anesthesiologist and American Medical Association trustee Rebecca J. Patchin, MD spoke before the Department of Health and Human Services Task Force on Drug Importation to express concern about the safety and reliability of imported drugs.