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Percent of Imported Pharmaceutical Ingredients Apparently Unchanged in 20 Years

Update FDA information

According to the FDA, in 2017, 80% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients used to make our medicines are imported. I can’t remember how many times I’ve read (and written) that over the past decade or so. Almost every time I read that particular statistic in the news, it’s often a story about drug quality problems, in which foreign APIs are reported as a growing problem. Flashback to the FDA in 1998: as reported by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients used to make medicines for sale in the U.S. is about 80%.

In March 2019, Anna Edney, from Bloomberg News, wrote an article called: “Tainted Pills Force FDA to Tighten Drug-Safety Regulations.” The main focus of the article is that there are drug quality problems caused by APIs that are not meeting the required standards.

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Florida’s House Drug Importation Bill – HB 19 – Easily Passes

Drug Importation Bill - Drug Prices World

Yesterday, the Florida House Legislature voted 93-22 passing HB 19. The bill creates programs and processes for importing prescription drugs from Canada, as well as from other countries. HB 19 actually calls for the creation of two programs, which I have summarized below. For a deep dive, you should read the Staff Analysis from the Florida House of Representatives.

Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program (CPDIP)

If HB 19 becomes law, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) will create processes that meet the safety protocols called for in the bill, which include inspections and testing of drugs, to allow registered wholesale pharmacies to import from Florida-registered Canadian wholesalers. In this program, lower drug prices will save taxpayers money for government funded-entities, such as county health departments, free clinics, and the Department of Corrections.

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Is the FDA Misleading Congress About the Safety of Imported Medicines?

FDA misleads Congress about drug importation

Properly licensed foreign pharmacies help Americans access medicines that they can’t afford here. Counterfeit drug makers and sellers, fentanyl and opioid dealers, and dangerous pharmacy websites are worthy targets of serious regulatory or criminal enforcement actions. There’s no gray there.

An article I wrote that was recently published in The Nation hopefully brings to greater public attention the FDA’s conflation of clearly safe channels for personal prescription imports with counterfeit drugs, the opioid crisis, and rogue online pharmacies. That conflation, one associated with the media relations work of the pharmaceutical industry – is used to justify FDA enforcement actions that exacerbate the crisis of high drug prices by threatening programs that facilitate prescription fulfillment from foreign, licensed pharmacies.

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Prescription Opioids are Needed to Quell the Opioid Crisis

Prescription opioids needed to combat opioid crisis

This week Purdue Pharma settled with the state of Oklahoma for $270 million to avoid a trial charging the company with what I call opioid drug dealing. Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family–founders and managers of the company–are enmeshed in 1,600 cases throughout the U.S. They are accused of illegal marketing activities that led to over-prescribing and rampant distribution of Oxycontin, which paved the way for millions to the addiction of opioids, with hundreds of thousands dying over the last decade.

It was not just Purdue but many drug companies—and the entire drug supply chain—that fueled the opioid death spiral. As drug companies and their allies in the drug supply chain continue to use the opioid crisis as a means to oppose prescription drug importation to lower drug prices in the U.S., we can only look on with amazement at their audacity.

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Freeh Group International Addendum on Drug Import Proposals

Earlier this week, a report (the “FGI Report”) opposing prescription drug importation proposals was released by the law firm of Freeh, Sporkin and Sullivan LLP and the Freeh Group International. Both organizations are headed by former FBI Director, Louis Freeh. I’m hesitant to criticize reports authored by dedicated Americans who spent years in public service protecting the safety of the American people in federal law enforcement. On the other hand, the intent of tacking the name of a venerated American patriot on a report that mirrors the lobbying agenda of the pharmaceutical industry is clearly being used to deter voices opposed to that agenda.

Summing it all up: this report was commissioned, I believe, by the drug company-funded group Partnership for Safe Medicines or a similar organization. As noted in the report’s title, it’s an addendum to an earlier report published in late 2017, one that was promoted at a Partnership for Safe Medicines media event at the National Press Club.

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Consumer Reports’ Deafening Silence about Safe Foreign Online Pharmacies

Consumer Reports' silence

Back in 2008, Consumer Reports recommended PharmacyChecker to Americans looking to save money on prescription drugs at foreign pharmacies. An article in the Los Angeles Times stated: “Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs advises checking online prices, for U.S. and foreign pharmacies, at pharmacychecker.com.”

That was then. This is now.

When Consumer Reports’ Lisa Gill testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on drug prices last week, she was silent in her prepared remarks about what she knows well: millions of Americans, readers of Consumer Reports, buy medicine online internationally. Her silence did not surprise me because Consumer Reports does not currently recommend buying medicine online from Canada or other countries, although many of its readers believe it should.

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