On June 14 and 15, 2017, several individuals were arrested in Manitoba and British Columbia, Canada (CBC News – Manitoba) pursuant to a U.S. extradition request relating to a 2015 U.S. federal indictment of the parties on charges of illegal wholesale importation of medication into the U.S. including one batch of Avastin alleged to be counterfeit. That indictment pertains to events occurring between 2009-2011. PharmacyChecker.com strongly condemns any manufacturing and trafficking in counterfeit drugs.
Some of the individuals arrested in Manitoba, all of whom have been released on bail and are scheduled to appear in court in Canada on July 12, are also owners and/or executives of CanadaDrugs.com, Ltd. which operated a wholesale business and an online retail website. The indictment focused on the wholesale business (an area which CanadaDrugs has long since exited) and not on its website that sells medication directly to individuals for their own use pursuant to a valid prescription, does not sell Avastin, and remains licensed by the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba and an approved member of the PharmacyChecker Verification Program. We are not aware of any incident involving the sale of counterfeit medicine from CanadaDrugs.com during its 12 years operating as an approved member of our PharmacyChecker Verification Program.
We continue to closely follow this case and will post information about it, as we have done in the past.
In 1976, reggae legend, Peter Tosh, released his song “Legalize It” – calling for the legalization of marijuana. In it, he sings “legalize it, don’t criticize it.” Needless to say, that’s already becoming our reality in the U.S. where, to varying degrees, many states have made pot legal. The federal government has begrudgingly accepted dissension in the ranks of states. Yes, there are rumblings that under Attorney General Jeff Sessions things are going to change. We’ll see.
To be intellectually honest, Silverman’s call to action is qualified. He seems to be saying to “legalize it,” but he’s not necessarily advising that we not “criticize it.” There are real threats from counterfeit and otherwise substandard drugs that need to be addressed in reforming the law. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, professor of medicine at Harvard, offers his own thoughts in Silverman’s piece: “We should be able to address this safety issue…To not have the conversation and instead say there’s no way to import medicines safely is a cop-out.” (more…)
This week, the group Prescription Justice sent a letter to Congress (House and Senate) signed by prominent non-profit activist and policy organizations – and PharmacyChecker.com (we were the only company!) – that clearly recognizes the lifeline of personal drug importation and the role that safe international online pharmacies play. The focus of the letter is support for the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act of 2017, which would help expand lawful options for importing lower cost medication, through retail and wholesale commerce. I wrote about this drug importation legislation a couple of months ago.
Too frequently I read articles in support or against drug importation that both drive me nuts. You’d think that I love the former and hate the latter but that’s not the case. I’m often equally annoyed when the authors either don’t know or care to write about the reality of prescription drug importation where people just go online, order their medication from Canada or another country, send in their valid prescriptions and get it by mail. As the letter iterates:
“Despite the federal restrictions, millions of Americans already import life-saving medications for their own use. While this practice can be done safely through properly credentialed international online pharmacies, it poses a real danger to patient safety because of rogue Internet drug sellers.”
And that’s why PharmacyChecker.com does what we do: verify and identify the safest international online options, educate and warn about rogue pharmacies, and get vocal about it. While the drug companies are obscenely powerful and are spending through the teeth to create anti-importation op-eds and reports, and giving members of Congress lots of money, the truth is a pretty powerful adversary as well. And importing medication from a licensed pharmacy in Canada (and many other countries) is, in the real world of facts, safe. (more…)
There’s a big lie peppered throughout news articles about buying medication online: 50% of medications ordered online are counterfeit, based on a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). That claim is without merit, but nonetheless pushed as fact by pharma-funded groups like Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies. WHO never conducted such a study. In its section on counterfeit drugs, WHO used to reference an unnamed study claiming that 50% of medications ordered from illegal online pharmacies that don’t publish a mailing address are counterfeit. WHO finally removed it from its latest public education page on counterfeit drugs. That “data” has worked to scare people away from buying more affordable medication online from other countries.
What does this have to do with the opioid addiction crisis and drug company propaganda? This week it was widely reported that, essentially, drug companies fueled the epidemic of opioid abuse in America by misusing a single letter written by a doctor in 1980 about the benefits of opioids. The letter was to the New England Journal of Medicine and stated that only four people out of 40,000 who received treatment with prescription opioid medications became addicted. It was not a peer-reviewed study or even a study at all! From CBS News:
“And that is how a one-paragraph letter with no supporting information helped seed a nationwide epidemic of misuse of drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin by convincing doctors that opioids were safer than we now know them to be.”
The devil (and that’s not a euphemism) is truly in the details. The author of the letter, Dr. Hershel Jick, affirmed that the letter was meant to cover patients in a hospital setting in the short-term, not out-patient settings, long-term use, or for pick-up at a pharmacy when someone has backpain. Dr. Jick stated: “I’m essentially mortified that that letter to the editor was used as an excuse to do what these drug companies did.” (more…)
PharmacyChecker Verification Program Protects Public Health
Americans and consumers worldwide come to PharmacyChecker.com to find pharmacies that will sell them properly dispensed, genuine medication, at a price they can afford.
We take our role very seriously and continually improve and enhance our program to keep up with changes in the marketplace.
For those who are interested, I’m happy to announce today that we have published our latest program documentation that effectively communicates our most current standards, policies and online pharmacy practice guidance on how to meet those standards. In reviewing our protocols, consumers, healthcare providers and advocates, and policy professionals can more fully understand why websites “approved” in the PharmacyChecker Verification Program are the safest international online pharmacies: as safe as U.S. pharmacies, according to peer-reviewed research and medication testing.
You can review our full set of PharmayChecker.com standards for verifying online pharmacies here. Below are some of the key attributes of our program and standards. (more…)
According to a Zogby Poll (see graphic) conducted in February of this year, 31.6% of Americans who said they have never ordered a medication online from another country cited fear of substandard drugs. Another 32.3% cited the law restricting the practice. Most often (44%) people said they preferred to get medication from local pharmacists, which I liked – but I’m aware that for that group affordability was less of an issue.
In 2001, in a Wall Street Journal article called “Survey Shows U.S. Customs Allows Illegal Foreign Medication,” then Congressman James Greenwood (R-PA) expressed his belief that Americans who import medications, even illegally, for their own use, should be able to. As president and chief executive of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), which represents leading biopharmaceutical companies (such as Abbvie, Amgen, Celgene, and Gilead), he has changed his tune.
Flashback to 2001…
Congressman Greenwood, who chaired the House Commerce oversight committee, stuck up for cash strapped older Americans. Congressman Greenwood said:
“While we would like to stop dangerous drugs from being brought in for abuse and stop people from getting drugs that are counterfeit or bogus, we don’t want to interfere … with an older person getting a better buy.”
He was referring to Americans importing small quantities of non-controlled, prescription drugs for their own use because they cost a lot less money than at U.S. pharmacies.
Properly Verified International Online Pharmacies Sell Genuine and Safe Medication
Last month, Roger Bate, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and head of the Safe Medicines Coalition, published the results of a study which tested and compared the quality of drugs purchased from online pharmacies in the U.S. and abroad, including pharmacies verified by third-parties and those not verified. The findings were clear: PharmacyChecker-approved international online pharmacies sell medications of comparable quality to U.S. online pharmacies verified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and LegitScript.
In fact, overall, the results were better for PharmacyChecker-verified pharmacies than for those verified by NABP and LegitScript. Results were dramatically worse for pharmacies with no third-party verification. The drug testing focused on generic versions of Lipitor (atorvastatin) and of generic Cipro (ciprofloxacin), which were ordered from the online pharmacies by the researchers. (more…)
There’s Rx Savings for Americans in Canada and Elsewhere If Needed!
Last week, we issued our first PharmacyChecker.com quarterly International Drug Price Savings Report, which showed that American consumers can potentially save, on average, 70% on 20 top-prescribed brand name drugs when buying from a Canadian pharmacy approved in our Verification Program. The report shows international pharmacy savings by country or group of countries: U.S., Canada, Australia/New Zealand/UK, India, and Turkey. We intend to issue this savings report every three months.
We chose the 20 medications based on IMS Health data on the most popularly prescribed non-controlled medications in 2015, and the prices were collected during February and March 2017. Ten of the medications are available in the U.S. as a generic, in which case American consumers will often – but not always – find the lowest prices locally.
Something unexpected happened at a dog and pony show staged at the National Press Club on April 4, where the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) gave its campaign against prescription drug importation and international online pharmacies the imprimatur of technocratic expertise. Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew Von Eschenbach, in opposing importation as unsafe, and “frightening” said that 29 countries have regulatory systems for drug safety comparable to the U.S. Was that a mistake? No. We need to get that list of 29 countries and create standards for distribution and refine guidance for consumers to help more Americans import lower cost medications from those countries.
I derived the number 29 because Dr. Eschenbach said: “of the 96 countries around the world that can supply drugs only 30% have a functional regulatory infrastructure that’s comparable to the one that we have at the Food and Drug Administration.” Simple math showed 30% of 96 is 28.8. I rounded to 29!
Granted, Dr. Eschenbach would say that I was taking his words out of context. (more…)