Today we’d like to feature content from our ally RxRights.org, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting access to safe and affordable personal drug importation through verified online pharmacies:
Lee Graczyk, RxRights lead organizer, felt compelled to respond to a recent Washington Post editorial about the problem of Internet piracy and the legislation that has been crafted to address it. Though we have not had much luck getting the Post to publish Lee’s responses in the past, he
continues to try, and wanted to share his latest effort.
The Post editorial board was on target in stating that the Stop Online Piracy Act’s (SOPA) definition of a rogue site is dangerously overbroad and could threaten legitimate Web sites [“A fair block on Internet piracy” editorial, Jan. 3.] Its explanation, however, could go further to discuss the implications SOPA would have on Americans who import their medications from legitimate pharmacies.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans–90,000 people in Florida alone–rely on ordering vital prescription medications from safe, licensed Canadian and other international pharmacies, mostly due to the exorbitant costs of prescription drugs in the U.S. If passed, SOPA would take away Americans’ access to these pharmacies. This is because the bill inappropriately groups together real pharmacies–licensed, legitimate pharmacies that require a doctor’s prescription and sell brand-name medications–and the rogues that sell everything from diluted or counterfeit medicine to narcotics without a prescription.
As legislators continue to move forward with SOPA, as well as its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act, they should recognize this is not only an Internet infrastructure and security matter, but also a grave health concern.
This article can also be found on RxRights.org. PharmacyChecker.com is an RxRights coalition member.
The “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), currently before Congress, threatens online access to safe and affordable medication through reputable international online pharmacies. A CBS-Fort Myers report gives a human face to this issue by highlighting a Floridian senior, Mary Miller, who is able to afford her medication only because of a Canadian online pharmacy. If SOPA passes, Ms. Miller may lose access to that Canadian online pharmacy. The CBS report features RxRights.org as the lead organization helping Americans rally to contact their elected officials to oppose SOPA.
Stopping rogue sites in many areas, such as those sites that steal and re-sell copyrighted movies and music, sell knockoffs of designer handbags and clothes, and especially those that sell dangerous or fake medication is the right idea. But a bill that could takedown many websites that are exercising the rights of free speech, publishing music and movies legally, and especially websites selling safe and affordable medication, is a bill that should be abandoned post-haste.
RxRights.org should be loudly applauded for its work on behalf of Americans who are struggling to afford medication by educating Americans about SOPA and how it could block access to affordable prescription medication.
Last week, Roger Bate, an economist and expert in counterfeit drugs with the American Enterprise Institute, wrote an article called “Google’s Ad Freedom Wrongly Curtailed.” Bate’s piece shows how banning safe foreign online pharmacies from advertising on Google and elsewhere is not only unethical but will lead to sub-optimal health outcomes. As we wrote at the end of August, the non-prosecution agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Google, in which the search engine was fined $500 million for allowing rouge Canadian sites to advertise controlled substances, is good because it forces Google to now block dangerous rogue online pharmacies from advertising. At the same time, however, it’s bad because it appears to prevent Google from allowing safe and affordable Canadian-based online pharmacies form advertising as well.
The DOJ/Google settlement appears to reflect the false rhetoric espoused by the U.S. government and pharmaceutical industry that only U.S. online pharmacies can be safe. Bate knows this is not true based on his own empirical studies, which found that properly credentialed non-U.S. online pharmacies sell genuine medication at a lower cost and require a prescription. By blocking safe Canadian pharmacies from advertising to Americans on Google, it is more difficult for needy Americans to find them. Bate writes:
Google’s current policy removes the potentially lethal sellers, but by disallowing credentialed foreign sites from advertising it will harm public health. The tens of millions of uninsured Americans who cannot afford their drugs will go online to circumvent this obstruction. If they are unaware of pharmacychecker.com’s credentialing, they will play Russian roulette and may end up buying a lethal product.
With media outlets and politicians inundated with a voracious pharmaceutical industry public relations assault that seeks to paint all non-U.S. online pharmacies as rogue, the victim here is the American seeking affordable medication online because he or she can’t afford it here at home. Bate wrote: “What is surprising is that independent groups, like Consumer Reports and AARP, have bought into this industry rhetoric or have failed to properly explain to their members that foreign doesn’t necessarily mean dangerous.” (more…)
A recent article in The Muskegon Chronicle warns of a new scam against consumers who buy prescription drugs online. The Chronicle reports:
Some people who bought prescriptions online later received calls from someone claiming to be an agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency, who demanded they wire a “fine” to avoid being arrested.
Anyone receiving a telephone call from a person claiming to be a DEA special agent or other law enforcement official seeking money should refuse the demand and report the threat by calling 1-877-792-2873.
While buying drugs online from Canada and other countries is, under most circumstances, technically illegal, individuals who import non-controlled products for their own personal use are not prosecuted. There is no reason whatsoever that a DEA or FDA agent would contact someone who purchased controlled or regular prescription drugs online asking for, or demanding payment of, a fine. Just as the article suggests, if you are targeted in this fake DEA scam, please report the threat to law enforcement officials immediately.
As a reminder, reputable international online pharmacies do not sell controlled substances to Americans. Federal law, under the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, mandates that only U.S. pharmacies with a DEA license can sell controlled substances online, pursuant to a valid prescription based on face-to-face consultation with a licensed U.S. physician. Learn more about buying controlled substances online.
In its July 2011 Progress Report, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) continues to do a disservice to Americans by classifying safe pharmacies in other countries as “rogue.” Out of the 8,000 sites “Not Recommended” by NABP, PharmacyChecker.com research shows 53 are safe international online pharmacies.
It is laudable and helpful to Americans when the NABP exposes truly rogue pharmacies, i.e., those that sell Americans fake drugs or even real drugs but without a prescription. However, the NABP has chosen, year after year, to lump in with these rogues, any pharmacy that is not based in the United States.
How can the NABP do this? Unfortunately, U.S. law says it is, under most circumstances, illegal for Americans to get their medicine from Canada or other countries. So NABP freely uses terms like “rogue,” “illicit,” and “illegal” when describing any foreign pharmacy. We see no reason to mislead the public into thinking that safe foreign pharmacies pose a danger and belong in the same group as rogue pharmacies. (more…)