The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is just one agency out of the many that make up the United States Department of Health and Human Services and, from PharmacyChecker’s relatively small (non-regulatory) role of helping verify online pharmacies to protect public health, I’ve learned just how insanely massive its mandate is. I’ve also witnessed and participated in its criticism, and with good reason: the agency is not honest or forthcoming about personal drug importation, their regulatory process has been said to be “inherently biased” in terms of which drugs they choose to approve and their coziness with the pharmaceutical industry, among other things. Wikipedia has an extremely long page aptly called Criticism of the Food and Drug Administration, much of it having to do with its role with prescription drugs, and less so other sectors, such as food, tobacco and cosmetics.
As my greater advocacy initiatives have worked to implore
the FDA to bring more balance, commonsense and fairness to regulating and
providing consumer education about personal imports of prescription drugs, I’ve
realized that I should practice the same in how I talk about the FDA. So,
without further ado, a moment of praise amongst the criticism:
A lot of media coverage about counterfeit drug threats in the U.S. are spurred by the media relations efforts of organizations funded by pharmaceutical companies, such as the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies and Partnership for Safe Medicines. As I see it, their public education efforts conflate safe online sales of medicines imported by consumers in the U.S. with counterfeit drug sales and other forms of drug sales, ones that clearly harm patients. One such article that did not fall prey to the propaganda was published in Kaiser Health News’ California Healthline detailing street market sales of prescription drugs, including cases that involve counterfeit drugs and the dangers they pose. Journalists who are looking closely, checking the funding of organizations disseminating information about prescription drug importation, can help stop the propaganda of the pharmaceutical industry.
The Kaiser story, written by John M. Glionna, focuses on
Latino immigrant communities in which people can’t afford medication or, due to
their immigration status, are fearful of deportation if they go to federally-funded
clinics for medical treatments. Eight people were arrested and charged with
illegal street sales of prescription drugs, including injectables and
controlled drugs. Glionna describes the LA County authorities report:
I’m proud to share that PharmacyChecker has published a white paper that
examines prices and availability of newly approved generic drugs. Our report,
based on 40 generic medications that were approved from 2017-2018, clearly
shows that generic drug approvals often don’t lead to greater affordability or
even access here in the U.S. We were inspired to examine pricing in addition to
availability after seeing availability research conducted by Kaiser Health News (KHN).
The KHN article concluded that the lack to generic availability in the U.S. “means
thousands or even millions of patients have no option beyond buying branded
drugs that can cost thousands of dollars per month.” As an option for those who
cannot afford that, PharmacyChecker found that 25% of the generic medications
were available online, internationally through pharmacies that are accredited
in the PharmacyChecker Verification Program.
Out of 40 generic medications that
were approved from 2017 to 2018, PharmacyChecker research found the following: