Americans overwhelmingly believe that drug prices are unreasonably high in our country. Millions have looked to the Internet to find lower drug prices at pharmacies in other countries, many because they have no other choice. For over 16 years, PharmacyChecker has provided online pharmacy verification and drug price comparison information to help these people. As I’ve written about for years, the drug companies and U.S. pharmacy corporations don’t like this and take actions to make it stop.
PharmacyChecker has filed a lawsuit against organizations and companies that we allege are illegally conspiring to “to choke off information about personal importation of affordable prescription medications from regulated, reputable pharmacies in Canada and elsewhere overseas.”
This week, Wendell Potter, healthcare
advocate and publisher of non-profit media outlet Tarbell, called out a slew of
drug industry experts for undermining efforts to lower drug prices. This
includes the likes of Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, the
Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, and the Partnership for Safe Medicines.
All use the specter of counterfeit drugs and the opioid crisis to scare the
American public away from safe personal importation via online pharmacies.
Recipients of Drug Company Donations
Who is called out?
Pipes, from the Pacific Research
Institute, because in an op-ed opposing drug importation, Ms. Pipes
obtusely connects Americans ordering drugs from Canada with the many tragic deaths
in low-income countries from
for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) for peddling false information about
World Health Organization studies and counterfeit drugs.
for Safe Medicines (PSM) for using the opioid crisis as a tool to oppose
importation of regular, less expensive prescription medicine.
This week, I attended ASOP Foundation’s symposium titled: “Spotlight on Illegal Online Sales of Medicine.” ASOP is short for the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies. That organization, which started with funding from Eli Lilly and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, has often received criticism on these blog pages. Like other Pharma-funded initiatives, its goals are aligned with the pharmaceutical industry and one of its main objectives is lobbying against personal drug importation. It often conflates, through its public education programs, safe international online pharmacies with dangerous rogue websites. However, a good part of its work is helping raise awareness and policy development to stop rogue sellers of counterfeit and substandard medicines from harming patients, and that’s something PharmacyChecker is 100% behind.
Much of ASOP’s work was the brainchild of LegitScript, a founder of ASOP. Truth be told, PharmacyChecker is the expert in safe international online pharmacies and providing consumers with useful guidance about them, but LegitScript/ASOP are the experts in rogue online pharmacies and pushing policies to shut them down. It’s disheartening that they seemingly refuse to separate safe importation from rogue online drug sellers. But I’ll put that aside for now.
I’m going to focus today’s post mostly on presentations by two high-ranking FDA officials. The first was the morning’s keynote speaker, Donald Ashley, JD, FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director of Compliance. His focus was the FDA’s efforts to combat illegal opioid sales online and those being imported through international mail facilities. I’ve written about how such actions can be used against safe personal drug imports. While that would be unfortunate, Mr. Ashley was meticulous in communicating that his efforts are strictly focused on opioids: shutting down fentanyl and other opioid-selling sites; detecting and stopping illegal opioid imports; and, through the Office of Criminal Investigations, charging and prosecuting these online opioid drug dealers.