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Sen. Nelson Wants Answers from FDA on Actions Against Affordable Rx Imports in Florida

Sen. Nelson.

Standing up for his constituents on drug prices

Last month, I blogged about the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ sending agents with search warrants to pharmacy storefronts in Florida that help older people buy more affordable medications from Canada and other countries. The FDA tried unsuccessfully to get one of the stores’ owners, Bill Hepscher, who runs Canadian MedStore, to sign a statement acknowledging that reimportation of prescription drugs is illegal. The Florida pharmacy storefront story was first reported in Kaiser Health News.

Yesterday, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb demanding to know why some prescription orders coming from Canada and other countries were seized, and inquiring why the FDA raided the storefront offices.

Clearly, Sen. Nelson understands the technical illegality of personal drug imports and the need to protect people from counterfeit drugs and Fentanyl. However, his letter underscores his confusion about why the FDA is stopping people from getting non-controlled, regular prescription drugs now. He wants to know specifically if there is a change in FDA’s overall enforcement policy.

I’ve been warning about the serious public health ramifications of overzealous FDA enforcement on access to affordable medication for a long time. In 2015, I wrote a report about online pharmacies and personal drug importation, and sent it to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Back in 2006, Senator Nelson played the leading role in ending stepped-up enforcement efforts by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (more…)

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Doug Jones Wants to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Doug JonesToday, Democrats are ecstatic, Republicans perhaps not so much, but one thing is certain: everyone’s wallets are cheering! The verdict is in: the state of Alabama voted Doug Jones to represent them as the next Senator of Alabama.

Put the Drama Aside…

You see, Doug Jones is a vote for expressly permitting your access to cheaper meds in Canada. “The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act” is a bill that Roy Moore would have most assuredly voted against, which is frankly unacceptable given the exorbitant prescription medication costs folks are facing at the local pharmacy counter every day.

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Imported Meds Save Lives by Improving Medication Adherence

The hearings on Capitol Hill about drug prices were a big deal this week. To policy wonks. All the rage was the report by the National Academies of Sciences about policies to lower drug prices. There was lot of intriguing discussion, debate, and deliberation on things we should do. Many that I agree with! Blah, blah, blah, blah. Medicare should negotiate drug prices! We should make generics available quicker! We should clamp down on patent abuse by big pharma! More price transparency! Stop direct-to-consumer advertising! Blah, blah, blah…blah. All of this was a big deal. To policy wonks.

What about people today?!??!

Now I like talking policy – too much sometimes. But I’m not writing about that hearing. No way. I came across a little piece in the New York Times, which loudly reminded me of this fact: While Congress debates, activists act, and policy nuts pontificate on drug prices –foreign pharmacies are the solution that saves American lives NOW. This is indisputable.

Access to more affordable drugs keeps Americans out of the hospital, able to lead more productive lives – and living. That’s what the most conclusive research proves.

For that reason: There’s no doubt in my mind that properly verified Canadian and other foreign online pharmacies are a boon to public health because they are far cheaper than U.S. pharmacies. Just to be clear: It’s not just that they help Americans save hundreds of millions of dollars a year – maybe billions (wish I knew). They are saving lives. (more…)

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AARP Report: Older Americans Looking for Drug Price Relief

Older Americans Online PharmaciesAARP just released its Rx Price Watch Report and the data doesn’t do your wallet any favors. Thankfully, verified international online pharmacies offer the price relief consumers need but can’t find locally. AARP has recommended that consumers consult PharmacyChecker.com to avoid rogue online pharmacy scams.

The AARP report painted quite a grim picture concerning the lack of drug price relief in the U.S.:

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NABP Changing Its Tune on Drug Importation?

For years, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has opposed new drug importation proposals that would improve access to more affordable medication from Canada and other countries. Led by its executive director, Carmen Catizone, PharmD, the NABP’s efforts pertaining to drug importation have focused mostly on opposing online access to imported medications – meaning Americans getting cheaper meds from Canada and other countries. This is not surprising. NABP has received a lot of money from pharmaceutical companies for these efforts. Also, NABP represents U.S. pharmacy boards and the members of those boards often have financial interests in U.S. pharmacies. But here’s a surprise…

Earlier this week, an article in the Washington Post focused on various prescription drug importation programs offered by cities, counties and schools to lower pharmaceutical bills for retirees and municipalities. According to the article, the FDA may view these programs as illegal. The FDA recently raided some pharmacy storefronts in Florida but did not shut them down. Those programs help Americans—especially the elderly— order affordable medications from other countries. Operating for 10, some even 15 years without interruption, they continue to save millions of dollars a year.

Mr. Catizone had the last word in the article. (more…)

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