Although the U.S. technically bans the personal importation of affordable and safe drugs that help people stay or get healthy (for example Merck’s asthma medication Singulair, sold in other countries for a fraction of the price found in U.S. pharmacies, is not technically FDA-approved due to different packaging), we waive our drug importation laws when it comes to European Union-produced sodium thiopental – a non-FDA-approved version, for lethal injections.
Sodium thiopental is a required sedative in U.S. executions, and earlier this year the only U.S. manufacturer ceased producing it. For this reason, we now rely on EU imports – a practice that is getting more and more difficult, as export controls have been strengthened on their end because our EU allies oppose the death penalty.
We find it sad and ironic that our government facilitates the importation of a drug used for executions, regardless of one’s position on the death penalty, but refuses to loosen restrictions on personal importation for drugs that help Americans live.
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.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is calling for a crackdown on rogue online pharmacies to curtail prescription drug abuse. Senator Schumer’s emphasis is on stopping online pharmacies that sell drugs without a prescription, particularly addictive drugs, such as Adderall and Xanax, which are controlled substances. We commend Senator Schumer on his actions. Since we first began our own work in 2002, a key requirement for an online pharmacy to be approved in the PharmacyChecker.com Verification Program has been that it require a valid U.S. prescription before dispensing any drug to an American. We also require that any pharmacy selling controlled substances to Americans be based in the U.S. and comply with the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 – legislation intended to curb drug abuse.
This is not Senator Schumer’s first call to arms regarding online pharmacies. In 2006, he co-sponsored the Internet Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act (S. 399), a bill to curb the sale of prescription drugs over the Internet without a valid prescription. A press release from Schumer’s office noted, “the bill is geared to domestic Internet pharmacies that sell drugs without a valid prescription, not international pharmacies that sell drugs at a low cost to individuals who have a valid prescription from their U.S. doctors.” Unfortunately, S. 399 never became law. (more…)
CNN.com recently aired a video entitled Phony meds flooding U.S, which addressed a variety of dangers related to buying prescription drugs in Mexico, on the streets of Los Angeles, from unauthorized sources and from certain online pharmacies. While warning consumers about the dangers of bad medicine and fraudulent practices is good, the CNN piece, unfortunately, may confuse consumers about what the real threats are. With 120 million American consumers struggling to afford their medication, many are understandably looking for alternatives to the prohibitive costs of brand name drugs in the U.S. We believe our Consumer Guide, which does not recommend Mexican pharmacies, gives the best information on how to save money safely on your prescriptions, a summary of which you can find here.
Whether traveling to Mexico or ordering from international online pharmacies, Americans deserve to be properly informed and this CNN piece highlights how the message to consumers is often misleading, unclear and inaccurate.
The segment begins at a border crossing between Tijuana and southern California. CNN reports, “Everyday Americans flock across the border to buy deeply discounted prescription drugs”. Several Americans interviewed in the piece say they can get cheaper medications at Mexican pharmacies, at 50% off or more, and that it works for them. (more…)