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…)
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.
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…)
This week, LegitScipt’s John Horton blogged with apparent glee about charges by the U.S Attorney’s Office for Western Pennsylvania implicating several Canadian individuals and their company, Quantum Solutions, for allegedly exporting wholesale quantities of medications manufactured for foreign markets to U.S. pharmacists between 2007 and 2011.
Horton makes the mistake of saying that the case involved charges against an internet pharmacy certified by PharmacyChecker, but this is not the case. No online pharmacy is charged in the case, let alone any online pharmacy verified by PharmacyChecker.
Horton also states that the case involved the shipment of “bad” medicine, but there is nothing in the court documents indicating a problem with the quality of any of medications. Their labeling was apparently for the countries where they were being sold, which makes them “misbranded” if sold in the U.S. but not “bad” medicine. The drugs involved were expensive brand name drugs like Abilify, Zyprexa, and Plavix, costing hundreds of dollars per month in the U.S. but normally 80-90% lower in price outside the U.S. — which is likely what motivated the U.S. pharmacists to allegedly purchase the medication from abroad.
John Horton’s blog shows that in the world of online pharmacies, one party you can’t trust for reliable information is John Horton.
A very strange thing about the government’s filing in this case is an attachment listing website domains, a few of which are for international online pharmacies verified in our program. There is no claim of wrongdoing by any of these sites. The filing explains that these website addresses are property which the U.S. government seeks to have forfeited by the defendants in the event of a conviction, as the addresses may have been purchased with proceeds of the alleged offense. Certainly there are other assets owned by the defendants that our government could seek, so why focus on these uninvolved websites? It would seem that if these websites were taken by the government, the public would lose access to several safe, low-cost pharmacies.
Not surprisingly, John Horton misrepresents at least one of these pharmacies as being “the subject of today’s criminal charges” (more lies). Horton goes further by posting this list of websites to his blog in what we see as an attempt to smear the reputations of these uninvolved sites and part of his ongoing tactics to scare Americans away from safe and affordable medication and keep us hostage to inflated drug prices at home.
The executive director of Prescription Justice, Jodi Dart, published an op-ed in Morning Consult earlier this week called The Rx Rip-Off. The piece does contain Ms. Dart’s opinions but there are also some facts reported, ones based on a Zogby poll on drug prices commissioned by Prescription Justice. The poll shows that 90% of Americans are united on the need for the government to take action to make medication more affordable! As an incredible coincidence, President Trump tweeted just hours after the op-ed was published that “Pricing for the American people will come way down!”
There’s a lot in this poll that I look forward to writing about but let’s consider some of the broad findings of the poll:
75.5% of Americans agree with President Trump that the “drug companies are getting away with murder:
29.6% of Americans say they have not filled a prescription because of cost.
4.2% say they currently get prescription medication from a Canadian or other international online pharmacy.
77% of respondents who had an opinion on the issue of importation laws (522 out of 674) supported reforms so that consumers could lawfully purchase medicines from Canada or other countries.
Only 15% of respondents were actually against legalizing personal drug importation (23% of those who had an opinion).