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. It’s true that I’m being selective but feel free to listen to his whole presentation, which seems to simply ignore the fact that consumers are already importing safe medication, which they can afford, often using online pharmacies. My point is that it’s necessary to get to the meat and potatoes of the importation and online pharmacy issue, but the Partnership for Safe Medicines, and maybe Dr. Eschenbach, too, doesn’t want that. PSM, which apparently parades itself as a non-profit consumer safety initiative, is a key component of the Big Pharma playbook to “educate” the public on importation. Don’t take it from me; take it from the investigative reporting of Kaiser Health News this week – “Non-Profit Linked to PhRMA Rolls Out Campaign to Block Drug Imports.”
About seven years ago or so, when PSM was, more honestly, run by a PhRMA vice president, they published a blog post declaring that there is no safe country from which to import medication. Well, according to Dr. Eschenbach, who has financial ties to the industry as well, that’s not true. There are lots of countries from which we can import safe and effective medications; and, to get back to the meat and potatoes, their prices are usually much lower.
With tens of millions of Americans skipping their medications each year because of cost, buying lower cost prescription drugs from other countries is sometimes medically necessary. Thus, it’s not surprising that tens of millions of Americans have already imported medications from foreign pharmacies, about four million a year, for their own use, despite the federal restrictions. It’s time to lift or reform those restrictions so that more Americans are empowered to buy lower cost medications from Canada…and at least 28 other countries.
For those consumers who need more affordable medication immediately, PharmacyChecker verifies international online pharmacies and compares their prices.Tagged with: Eschenbach, kaiser health news, Partnership for Safe Medicines, pharmaceutical regulations