Generally, I strongly support the World Health Organization (WHO) and its unambiguously important work to save lives through its public health efforts. The backlash against it in the U.S. is simultaneously misguided and politically motivated. I know why. It detracts from our failures in the U.S. to save lives, but there is more to the story. Republicans generally have a greater hostility to international organizations because they view them as tying our hands and/or taking our money to help people in poorer countries. The argument is that U.S. foreign policy must be about U.S. national interests not some idealistic notion of global cooperation.
But here’s the thing. The WHO plays critical roles in polio eradication, vaccines for preventable diseases, providing essential healthcare services, public health surveillance, emergency operations, and, yes, preventing and controlling outbreaks. Here’s a great fact-check document about WHO, specifically its efforts to bring the world together to combat Covid-19. Those efforts do protect and promote our national interests by bringing greater global political stability.
Using very similar talking points to Big Pharma-funded experts, in its quest to “educate” the public about the dangers of internet pharmacies and personal medicine imports, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) appears to have ignored the greatest pharmacy-related public health travesty happening right under its nose. Since the beginning of this century, billions of prescription opioid pills were wrongly, and in many cases unlawfully, pushed on and distributed to Americans. The result is about 500,000 deaths since 1999. The main culprits in sowing this drug epidemic are usually identified as big pharmaceutical companies and distributors.
Citing the case of the Rochester Drug Cooperative, I have asked before where the NABP was in tackling this opioid crisis. I was mostly referring to its quasi-regulatory role in certifying wholesale pharmacies through its Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributors (VAWD) program because all major distributors accredited through VAWD – AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health – have been implicated in the opioid epidemic. As reported in the New York Times last week, a new court filing provides details showing how major U.S. pharmacy retail giants – including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walmart – were “as complicit in perpetuating the crisis as the manufacturers and distributors of the addictive drugs.”
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Americans without health insurance are four times more likely to buy a prescription drug from another country due to cost. That’s from an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, published in 2015. Not surprisingly, more comprehensive health insurance generally leads to greater prescription adherence, meaning people properly taking prescription medication. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, and a very uncertain healthcare system response in the U.S., 27 million Americans stand to lose their health insurance, according to a new survey and analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. More than I have ever meant it in the history of this blog, safe personal importation of prescription drugs can and should be a lifeline for Americans.
Further to the above, I implore those in government and the pharma-funded organizations who have say over this matter to take the requisite actions to make sure Americans have security in their access to more affordable medicines available online at international pharmacies. Last month, incredibly, the FDA was increasing personal drug import seizures, medicines that Americans had ordered because the prices are too high domestically.
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