The personal drug importation saga continues in the State of Maine this this week as legislators consider a bill that would allow state residents to order prescription medication from foreign pharmacies. The bill follows in the wake of – and as a response to – Maine Attorney General William Schneider’s suspension of drug importation programs last September. Pressured by local pharmacies, Schneider argued that licensed foreign pharmacies could not sell to Maine residents because they were not licensed by Maine.
As the bill’s name makes clear, An Act to Ensure Consumer Choice in the Purchase of Prescription Drugs (LD 449) aims to preserve consumer choice and facilitate personal drug importation in order to bring down drug costs. This bill calls for legal personal importation from the following countries: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Africa, and any country in the European Union or European Economic Area.
According to a December poll conducted by the Press Herald, 92% of respondents felt that state residents should be allowed to purchase prescription drugs from Canada. LD 449 has support from Governor Paul LePage and the Maine State Employees Association. The City of Portland claims it saved $3.2 million through the importation program suspended by Attorney General Schneider.
The bill also has support from private employers. Scott Wellman, CFO of Hardwood Products Company, cited savings of $638,000 over the six years that the company’s employees imported medicine through CanaRx, a Canadian international mail-order pharmacy service.
The importation bill is noteworthy for declaring the existing legal impediments to importation an “emergency,” requiring that the legislation’s provisions take immediate effect. Maine’s legislators are taking a very progressive stance on personal drug importation, one that we’ll certainly continue to closely follow.Tagged with: Maine