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).
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…)
Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate called the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, which, if passed, would legalize the importation of lower cost medications from Canada, by wholesalers for re-sale and individuals for personal use. I support this bill as a great step in the right direction to reign in drug prices. The bill’s sponsors, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Bob Casey (D-PA) are to be commended. Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced a companion bill in the House. You can watch the press conference announcing the new importation legislation above.
If passed, the new bill directs the FDA to finally help Americans do what they do already, but they would have new FDA assurances, which is purchase lower cost medication from safe international online pharmacies. It also would allow wholesalers in the U.S. to buy medications at lower cost from FDA-registered Canadian wholesalers, so that U.S. retail pharmacies can charge lower prices, too, which will mean fewer international, online retail sales.
For the last 15 years, we’ve been verifying international online pharmacies, ones that extend beyond Canada, and comparing their prices. Empirical and peer-reviewed literature studying online pharmacies demonstrates the significant savings consumers find through safe importation. We know for a fact this works. (more…)
In this blog post I’m going to get personal. Not about me but about importing medication from Canada and other countries. You’ll see what I mean. Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment to the budget bill, which would have paved the way for future deficit neutral spending to implement new regulations expanding lawful access to lower cost imported medication from wholesalers, pharmacies and individuals. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated 52-46.
Let’s forget about the fact that drug companies give members of Congress lots of money. OK, I can’t forget: it’s about two billion dollars over the last 15 years. Some senators who voted against the amendment cited their concerns with safety as a basis for their vote. Let me explain why they are wrong, at least when it comes to personal vs. wholesale drug importation. (more…)