Drug Importation in Texas: An Overview

Map of Texas with prescription pill bottle to the left. The bottle a label with a maple leaf that's peeling away to reveal a skull and crossbones.

Current status:

The Texas Legislature introduced House Bill 25, the Wholesale Prescription Drug Importation Act, in November 2022. PSM shared an analysis of the bill with the Texas House committee that you can read. The bill, which has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed by the Governor, will require the executive commissioner of Texas's Health and Human Services Commission to take action to establish Canadian drug importation beginning in September 2023.

Synopsis / Media Contact

H.B. 25 would require Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission to design a program for bulk importing prescription medicines under 21 USC 384 of the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, more commonly known as a Section 804 State Importation Program (SIP).

For over two decades these programs have proven to be impossible to build safely because:

This legislation has been pushed without concern for the consequences. As many states discovered during the pandemic trying to buy hard-to-find N95 masks, buying medical products that aren't readily available creates great risk of counterfeit products. PSM believes that the Texas legislature is forcing it's patients and pharmacists to take unacceptable risks with patient health and pharmacist liability by enacting this program without looking at the risks.

PSM Executive Director Shabbir Imber Safdar is available to do interviews to explain the risks of this program to media. Contact him through editors@safemedicines.org and specify your print deadline.

Planning documents

Background / resources

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

PSM Materials:

Op-eds from the Experts

State Boards of Pharmacy weigh in against importing drugs from Canada

June 21, 2017

Pharmacy boards, which ensure the safety of prescription medicines at the state level, have been sending letters to Congress to expressing significant safety concerns about legislation that would legalize drug importation.

First DHS Secretary: “It is too easy to ship deadly drugs in the mail”

June 21, 2017

The Salt Lake Tribune printed this editorial by Tom Ridge, the 43rd governor of Pennsylvania and first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, on June 10, 2017. Ridge is currently a senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP).

Health Policy Expert Declares Drug Importation “Unsafe, Unnecessary and Unwise”

June 9, 2017

This editorial was published by the Institute for Policy Innovation on June 5, 2017. Its author, Dr. Merrill Matthews, is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, a health policy expert and contributor at Forbes.com. He also serves on the Texas Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

A Patient Speaks Out: “Drug importation is dangerous.”

May 10, 2017

Ali Schroer wrote this editorial for the Washington Examiner on May 10, 2017.

Like millions of Americans, I take allergy medicine. A few years ago, my doctor urged me to bid farewell to my local pharmacy and instead buy my medication from an online Canadian drug store, where it was cheaper. What terrible advice! The website was counterfeit and sent me “medicine” that was anything but — causing me to get severely sick . . .

Hill Editorial Warns of Health Risks Resulting from Drug Importation Proposals

May 1, 2017

Ronald Piervincenzi, CEO of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention describes the dangerous flaws in any plan to open up U.S. borders to wholesale prescription medication importation from Canada.

Pew Trust Warns Senator Sanders that Drug Import Bill Could Compromise the Safety of the U.S. Drug Supply

March 14, 2017

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.

The American Medical Association Opposes Drug Importation

December 13, 2016

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.

Anesthesiologist and AMA Board Trustee Testifies About the Dangers of Imported Drugs (2004)

May 14, 2004

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.