From time to time, we participate in the public policy process by submitting public comments to government agencies requesting them. In May of this year, after introducing the Trump administration’s blue print plan for lowering drug prices, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the public to comment on the Trump administration plan and/or make recommendations for lowering drug prices and out-of-pocket prescription costs.
I submitted comments that were laser-focused on PharmacyChecker’s area of greatest expertise, personal drug importation and online pharmacies. My comments clarify why and how properly-verified, international online pharmacies are a lifeline of safe and affordable medicines for Americans.
PharmacyChecker Public Comments to HHS July 13, 2018
The basic recommendations offered in the comments are below:
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- Under Section 804 (j) of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should expressly permit medicine imports for personal use to empower patients seeking affordable medication.
- Per the above, implement the Australian model of making personal drug importation legal with caveats to prohibit personal use imports of controlled drugs, especially prescription narcotics.
- The FDA should end its blanket warning against ordering medicines online, imported for personal use from pharmacies in Canada and other countries, and instead provide guidance on best practices for those who choose to import.
- The FDA should stop seizing personal imports of non-controlled medicines arriving from pharmacies that the FDA knows are licensed and require valid prescriptions.
- The FDA should take no enforcement actions against international online pharmacies that it has reason to believe are the safest international options available to Americans and instead focus on those that represent the gravest threats, particularly ones that sell prescription narcotics.
Well, here we go again, another bill that would formally legalize a practice that has been going on for decades: Americans importing meds from Canadian pharmacies, at the very least to cut down on their drug bills, and in some cases even to afford life-saving medicines. Sorry to sound cynical, but I’ve seen these bills before and Big Pharma is always behind their failure – but what about this time?
The bill, H.R. 2228, was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) barely a week ago and co-sponsored by Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and is entitled “Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015.” It seems to mirror legislation in the Senate, S. 122, introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-NV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which has the same title.
The bills are focused on Canadian pharmacies only, not the wider landscape of international online pharmacies, which are often based in Canada: ones that millions of Americans have benefited from for over a decade. If H.R. 2228 passes, the FDA would be required to publish a list of approved Canadian pharmacies from which Americans could legally import, for personal use, non-controlled, non-biologic, and non-temperature sensitive, prescription medications. That would include the majority of maintenance prescription drugs that Americans are currently importing for personal use.
I support this bill 100%. Even though our program is open to safe and licensed pharmacies in other countries, not just ones in Canada and the U.S., the new bill moves the public policy and economic justice needle in the right direction. The practice of international pharmacy began with Americans crossing the border to buy lower cost medications in Canada and then, with the advent of the Internet, buying through mail order. Current law, technically, bans the practice and, unjustly, views it as a criminal act – even though no one has been prosecuted for it. The new bill in the House and Senate would lift the unethical ban on buying lower cost medications for their own use from Canada. Amen and Word Up to that!
So head on over to RxRights.org to contact your elected representatives and let them know you want them to vote for the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015!
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