“Safe prescription drugs.” That’s what pundits and politicians almost always promise when it comes to drug importation. But they almost always fail to mention the very real dangers patients would face when buying drugs from countries like China, India, and even Canada. At STATNews.com, BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood explains what’s at stake if lawmakers allow foreign prescription drugs to flood our communities and pharmacies:
“The debate about drug importation has been underway for decades. Those who support it have never advanced a responsible plan that would provide the same level of health and safety protections that the FDA has delivered for decades. Its rigorous system of rules and protocols ensure that prescription drugs in this country are safe and effective. It protects those high standards by preventing the sale of imported prescription drugs that are not approved for use in the U.S.
“This longstanding policy has generated protests from individuals who want Americans to have greater access to lower-cost medicines. This laudable goal is shared by the biopharmaceutical industry, which is championing market-based solutions to advance it.
“We cannot, however, ignore the very real safety risks of buying prescription medicines from other countries. The dangers range from seemingly innocuous concerns about the information listed on drug labels to the more obvious threats posed by counterfeit drugs and a lack of quality control in drug manufacturing in other countries.”
In his op-ed, Greenwood describes in greater detail these safety risks, including those identified by former-FBI Director Louis Freeh, four former FDA commissioners, and a former Canadian health minister. Then, just as importantly, Greenwood goes on to outline more responsible solutions for tackling drug costs. As he concludes:
“There are better ways to drive down drug costs. The Council for Affordable Health Coverage recently encouraged policymakers to start by fostering more competition, streamlining the payment process, and accelerating the approval process for generic treatments. There are numerous ways to achieve these goals. …
“We are fortunate to live in an age of rapid innovation. Researchers are developing breakthrough treatments, and even cures, for a range of once-deadly or debilitating illnesses. These medicines are improving the quality of life for countless individuals.
“Let’s not take a step back by undermining the basic safety of those groundbreaking treatments. Instead, we should move forward together on responsible solutions that will promote greater access to affordable medicines while still protecting patient safety.”
To read the full op-ed published by STAT, click here.
To learn more about the solutions proposed by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, click here.