This week I’m down in Washington, DC, talking to policy-makers and activists, setting off alarm bells about Big Pharma’s campaign to not only kill prescription importation legislation but also the ability for Americans to currently buy medications from Canada and elsewhere at all. I have a feeling Big Pharma knows I’m here, which is kind of cool (but also freaks me out because they are very powerful and we are not). Here’s the very quick story.
When I searched “pharmacychecker” in Google I noticed the top advertisement was placed by none other than the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (“Big Pharma”). That ad doesn’t show up in Brooklyn where I live but appears targeted in Google to the DC area. They know that our pricing information, verification work we do for patient safety, and advocacy is compelling to some public policy and healthcare advocates down here, so they pay Google to get their message on top. As if Big Pharma’s 1100 lobbyists aren’t enough!
It’s a badge of honor (but there’s no sleep til Brooklyn).
A product of the RightsCon Conference, the completion of the Brussels Principles on Medication Sales over the Internet was announced last month. Those principles invoke international human rights law in defending the online sale and purchase of affordable medications that are imported by consumers. Many countries view access to healthcare and by extension to essential medications as a human right, which is reflected in recent declarations by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
I happen to be a very patriotic American, one who believes in global cooperation, human rights law and the work of the United Nations as being good for our country. I respect that many Americans are turned off by or concerned about globalization, international agreements or the UN and we can disagree on that. But you know what, we don’t need global human rights law to make our case against Big Pharma and its price gouging: we have our Founding Fathers and national notions of liberty to rely on.
In considering the spirit of the July 4th holiday, it’s worth remembering that the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence do not guarantee us access to all we want or economic equality. I believe, however, that those rights include the freedom to purchase medication at a price we can afford and any laws that prevent us from doing so violate those rights.
Those sacred rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, according to the Founding Fathers, were not granted to us by government (or international organizations). They are divine rights. Think about that the next time you consider buying lower cost imported medication from Canada.
Happy Fourth of July!
Tagged with: 4 July, declaration of independence, founding fathers, human rights
Pharma-sponsored lackeys are using the hellish opioid crisis as an excuse to bash Senator Bernie Sanders’ drug importation bill, claiming it will worsen the crisis. This is all the more aggravating in light of the role of the pharmaceutical industry in causing the opioid death spiral in America in the first place. High drug prices and opioid abuse, such as lawful and illegal fentanyl use, are both killers. I published an article in The Hill on Friday called a Tale of Two Drug Bills to address this issue.
Tagged with: fentanyl, stop, synthetic opioid
Principles to guide the Internet community on ethical medication sales
A few months back, I wrote about a panel that I put together as part of my work with PharmacyChecker.com and Prescription Justice, a non-profit group dedicated to ending the crisis of high drug prices in America. The panel was one of hundreds of sessions at the RightsCon Conference in Brussels, an event that brings together Internet freedom, human rights and social justice activists. The panel discussed issues related to buying medication online, Internet freedom, importation and drug affordability – and the negative impact of the pharmaceutical industry on all of the above.
Essentially, drug companies have spent millions of dollars on funding “non-profit” groups, public relations efforts, lobbying Congress and international organizations, Interpol (I kid you not), etc., with the goal of making it hard, if not impossible, for people to buy safe and lower cost medication online from other countries, which include people in America, that can’t afford it locally. Their activities intentionally conflate the intentional sale of counterfeit and substandard drugs with safe international online pharmacies.
The panel was a great step forward in giving the consumer side of this issue a larger voice. The panelists discussed and edited a draft set of principles on medication sales and the Internet. It took a while, but, on June 15, 2017, Knowledge Ecology International and Prescription Justice finalized and endorsed what we’re calling the Brussels Principles, which are published below. (more…)
Tagged with: accessnow, brussels principles, KEI, Rightscon
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.
This week, journalist and pharmaceutical industry analyst, Ed Silverman, from Stat News, published an opinion article called “It’s time to make it legal for Americans to order prescription drugs from abroad.” Unlike the downpour of op-eds against importation sponsored by drug companies, Silverman has no financial interest in this.
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…)
Tagged with: boston globe, ed silverman, legalize it, sanders, statnews
Getting some prescription justice
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…)
Tagged with: Congress, letter, prescription justice