November 20, 2017 — Kaiser Health News reported that the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations sent agents and search warrants to several companies in Florida — often referred to as pharmacy storefronts — because they help Americans place orders and fill prescriptions with pharmacies located in Canada in addition to other countries.
Read the full story here: FDA Raids Florida Stores That Consumers Use to Buy Drugs from Canada
The FDA has a lot of regulatory latitude to shape its enforcement agenda. Its efforts against counterfeit drug sales, opioid pushers (including drug companies), and rogue websites can greatly protect public health. However, we know that FDA/OCI has a history of actions more focused on protecting the profits of pharmaceutical companies.
PharmacyChecker.com opposes enforcement actions that target the safest international pharmacy options, whether via online pharmacies or storefronts, on which many Americans have come to rely because they can’t afford medications locally.
FDA has informed storefront operators that prescription drug importation is illegal and that they could face fines or jailtime for helping Americans buy lower-cost medication. The storefronts at issue here are neither pharmacies nor importers. Basically, these are offices found throughout the U.S. where consumers can go to place a prescription drug order with a Canadian or other international pharmacy. They often help older Americans who don’t feel comfortable using the Internet to order medication.
Under most circumstances, importing prescription drugs – even to fill a personal prescription – from a pharmacy in Canada is illegal, but individual patients have never been prosecuted. This new action does not target individuals, but it does threaten storefront operators who may be scared into shutting down.
Who does that help? It helps drug companies and U.S. pharmacies. The former want to keep Americans paying the highest prices, and the latter, more understandably, want customers in their stores. It hurts patients’ pocket books and in some cases their health when they can’t afford the drug here.
The PharmacyChecker Verification Program does not verify pharmacy storefront operations in Florida or elsewhere. However, we were pleased to learn that some of the storefronts mentioned use our international pharmacy verification efforts to vet licensed pharmacies. Peer-reviewed research has demonstrated that international online pharmacies approved in our program are as safe as U.S. pharmacies.
Our nation’s regulators do a disservice to the public health by treating international pharmacy options that help people afford medication like rogue online pharmacies and counterfeit drug sellers. We can go after bad guys selling opioids and counterfeit drugs without hurting Americans trying to afford their medications.Tagged with: Enforcement, Florida, opioids, storefronts