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. Operating for 10, some even 15 years, those programs help Americans—especially the elderly— order affordable medications from other countries.
Mr. Catizone had the last word in the article. (more…)
Tagged with: Carmen Catizone, drug importation program, Flagler, Kokomo, NABP, Schenectady
Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), chaired a panel at the African American Museum in Philadelphia last week to discuss problems of access to affordable healthcare, which included the problem of drug costs in America. It’s noteworthy that Secretary Sebelius conspicuously did not mention that as governor of Kansas she adopted a drug importation program through which residents of Kansas had online access to verified and low-cost international pharmacies.
During the panel discussions, a retired pastor, Delores McCabe, brought focus to the high cost of prescription medication. As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
There has got to be something we can do above the Affordable Care Act that does something about an industry that is immoral,” [McCabe] said, drawing applause from the crowd. “It is immoral and unethical to charge people to stay alive.
In her response, Sebelius urged McCabe and the others to voice their opinions to their elected officials. She mentioned that strides have been taken to bring down costs during her time with the Obama administration, such as plugging the Medicare drug plan doughnut hold with 50% discounts and the passage of the Affordable Care Act through which more Americans will have healthcare insurance (and therefore lower drug costs). She also mentioned that as Governor of Kansas she was able to negotiate drug prices for Medicaid but that such negotiations for Medicare are illegal under federal law.
We wonder, however, why she omitted the fact that as governor she authorized the creation of a state website so Kansas residents could access verified international pharmacies offering safe and affordable prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. Apparently, what was once politically popular, helping Americans personally import safe and affordable prescription medication, appears less so. Unfortunately, its lack of political popularity has probably resulted in fewer Americans getting the medication they need. Hopefully this election season will shine a bright light on the plight of Americans and their inability to afford medication in the United States and all the effective solutions to the problem, politically popular or not.
Tagged with: drug importation program, Health and Human Services, Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, politics