NACDS to Senate: Prevent move to 'personal importation' of prescription drugs

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An amendment to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that would prohibit the FDA from preventing an individual not in the business of importing a prescription drug from importing prescription drugs from Canada, has sparked concern with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

In a letter to U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., NACDS urged the U.S. Senate to consider the patient safety consequences of allowing "personal importation" of prescription drugs and to refrain from moving to such a system through an amendment to the legislation that allocates funds to the FDA.

"NACDS shares your goal of reducing the cost of prescription drugs," NACDS wrote. "However, we do not believe that consumer safety can be ensured under a prescription drug reimportation system. In addition to questions concerning the safety and effectiveness of imported drugs, individuals who obtain medications through personal importation are less likely to benefit from the professional services of their local licensed pharmacist. Prescription drug misuse and nonadherence accounts for as much as $290 billion dollars annually; therefore, it is more important than ever to foster relationships between patients and pharmacists.

"Additionally, NACDS is very concerned about the growing problem of illegal Internet drug sellers. Your amendment would allow for re-imported drugs to be sold over such websites, yet illegitimate websites are not pharmacies, and are not licensed in the United States. They often ship unapproved, counterfeit, mislabeled or adulterated products presenting serious health and safety concerns. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you on developing policy solutions that target these illegitimate drug sellers at chokepoints and construct appropriate barriers to the illicit activities."

As alternatives for helping to reduce healthcare costs, NACDS urged support for S. 274, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, which it believes would improve Medicare's utilization of pharmacist-patient interactions to help patients take medications appropriately, and S.1356, the Affordable Medicines Utilization Act, which would encourage states to increase Medicaid generic dispensing rates.

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