Today we’d like to feature content from our ally RxRights.org, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting access to safe and affordable personal drug importation through verified online pharmacies:

Lee Graczyk, RxRights lead organizer, felt compelled to respond to a recent Washington Post editorial about the problem of Internet piracy and the legislation that has been crafted to address it. Though we have not had much luck getting the Post to publish Lee’s responses in the past, he
continues to try, and wanted to share his latest effort.

The Post editorial board was on target in stating that the Stop Online Piracy Act’s (SOPA) definition of a rogue site is dangerously overbroad and could threaten legitimate Web sites [“A fair block on Internet piracy” editorial, Jan. 3.] Its explanation, however, could go further to discuss the implications SOPA would have on Americans who import their medications from legitimate pharmacies.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans–90,000 people in Florida alone–rely on ordering vital prescription medications from safe, licensed Canadian and other international pharmacies, mostly due to the exorbitant costs of prescription drugs in the U.S. If passed, SOPA would take away Americans’ access to these pharmacies. This is because the bill inappropriately groups together real pharmacies–licensed, legitimate pharmacies that require a doctor’s prescription and sell brand-name medications–and the rogues that sell everything from diluted or counterfeit medicine to narcotics without a prescription.
As legislators continue to move forward with SOPA, as well as its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act, they should recognize this is not only an Internet infrastructure and security matter, but also a grave health concern.

 

This article can also be found on RxRights.org. PharmacyChecker.com is an RxRights coalition member.

 

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RxRights.org Opposition to “Stop Online Piracy Act” Featured On CBS Florida Affiliate

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), currently before Congress, threatens online access to safe and affordable medication through reputable international online pharmacies. A CBS-Fort Myers report gives a human face to this issue by highlighting a Floridian senior, Mary Miller, who is able to afford her medication only because of a Canadian online pharmacy. If SOPA passes, Ms. Miller may lose access to that Canadian online pharmacy. The CBS report features RxRights.org as the lead organization helping Americans rally to contact their elected officials to oppose SOPA.

Stopping rogue sites in many areas, such as those sites that steal and re-sell copyrighted movies and music, sell knockoffs of designer handbags and clothes, and especially those that sell dangerous or fake medication is the right idea. But a bill that could takedown many websites that are exercising the rights of free speech, publishing music and movies legally, and especially websites selling safe and affordable medication, is a bill that should be abandoned post-haste.

RxRights.org should be loudly applauded for its work on behalf of Americans who are struggling to afford medication by educating Americans about SOPA and how it could block access to affordable prescription medication.

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Last week, Roger Bate, an economist and expert in counterfeit drugs with the American Enterprise Institute, wrote an article called “Google’s Ad Freedom Wrongly Curtailed.” Bate’s piece shows how banning safe foreign online pharmacies from advertising on Google and elsewhere is not only unethical but will lead to sub-optimal health outcomes. As we wrote at the end of August, the non-prosecution agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Google, in which the search engine was fined $500 million for allowing rouge Canadian sites to advertise controlled substances, is good because it forces Google to now block dangerous rogue online pharmacies from advertising. At the same time, however, it’s bad because it appears to prevent Google from allowing safe and affordable Canadian-based online pharmacies form advertising as well.

The DOJ/Google settlement appears to reflect the false rhetoric espoused by the U.S. government and pharmaceutical industry that only U.S. online pharmacies can be safe. Bate knows this is not true based on his own empirical studies, which found that properly credentialed non-U.S. online pharmacies sell genuine medication at a lower cost and require a prescription.  By blocking safe Canadian pharmacies from advertising to Americans on Google, it is more difficult for needy Americans to find them. Bate writes:

Google’s current policy removes the potentially lethal sellers, but by disallowing credentialed foreign sites from advertising it will harm public health. The tens of millions of uninsured Americans who cannot afford their drugs will go online to circumvent this obstruction. If they are unaware of pharmacychecker.com’s credentialing, they will play Russian roulette and may end up buying a lethal product.

With media outlets and politicians inundated with a voracious pharmaceutical industry public relations assault that seeks to paint all non-U.S. online pharmacies as rogue, the victim here is the American seeking affordable medication online because he or she can’t afford it here at home. Bate wrote: “What is surprising is that independent groups, like Consumer Reports and AARP, have bought into this industry rhetoric or have failed to properly explain to their members that foreign doesn’t necessarily mean dangerous.” (more…)

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Beware of Fake DEA Agent Online Pharmacy Scam

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.

 

 

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NABP July 2011 Progress Report – Is Turning a Blind Eye Toward Needy Americans Really Progress?

In its July 2011 Progress Report, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) continues to do a disservice to Americans by classifying safe pharmacies in other countries as “rogue.” Out of the 8,000 sites “Not Recommended” by NABP, PharmacyChecker.com research shows 53 are safe international online pharmacies.

It is laudable and helpful to Americans when the NABP exposes truly rogue pharmacies, i.e., those that sell Americans fake drugs or even real drugs but without a prescription. However, the NABP has chosen, year after year, to lump in with these rogues, any pharmacy that is not based in the United States.

How can the NABP do this? Unfortunately, U.S. law says it is, under most circumstances, illegal for Americans to get their medicine from Canada or other countries. So NABP freely uses terms like “rogue,” “illicit,” and “illegal” when describing any foreign pharmacy. We see no reason to mislead the public into thinking that safe foreign pharmacies pose a danger and belong in the same group as rogue pharmacies. (more…)

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PharmacyChecker.com was mentioned this week in a U.S. News and World Report article entitled How to Cut Your Drug Costs. Listed among other effective ways to save money on prescription drugs, the article notes that PharmacyChecker “compares prices of mail-order pharmacies, and can help you find the lowest posted prices.

How to Cut Your Drug Costs reminds readers that buying drugs from Canada – and elsewhere overseas – is technically illegal, but it quotes AARP: “Over the past decade millions of Americans have ignored U.S. law to seek cheaper prices from Canada, most often by mail order.” Notably, AARP found Canadian prices for Lipitor to be about a third less than they are here in the U.S. The fact that the FDA has (to our knowledge) never prosecuted an individual for importing a three-month supply of personal, non-controlled drugs with a valid prescription, means that they too understand the importance of access to safe and affordable medication. (more…)

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The Protect Intellectual Property Act – S.968 Will Prevent Access To Medicines

Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed S. 968, Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, also known as the Protect IP Act. Its passage represents a real threat to Americans’ access to safe and affordable medications online and we hope that as the bill makes its way through the legislative process it will be amended appropriately.

Essentially, the bill will make it easier to crackdown on rogue pharmacy sites selling fake meds and not requiring a prescription, which is great; however, it will also encourage actions to block Americans’ access to reputable and affordable non-U.S. online pharmacies that sell genuine medication and require a prescription, which are a lifeline for uninsured Americans. That’s because of Section 5, which includes in its definition of “infringing sites” online pharmacies that sell medications to Americans that are not manufactured in a facility approved by the FDA. (more…)

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Generic prescriptions are on the rise, as doctors are prescribing them, and pharmacies are filling them, now more than ever. We recently wrote that the percentage of generic scripts being dispensed rose to 78% last year. But the popularity for generics – attributed to the significantly lower price tag compared to brand name drugs – is expected to take on a whole new meaning, as the patents for some blockbuster brand name drugs expire this year; this is also known as the “Patent Cliff”.

The biggest prize, Pfizer’s Lipitor (for Cholesterol), the number one selling drug in the U.S., goes generic later this year (November 2011); and Plavix (a blood thinner) and Actos (for Diabetes) will follow (May 2012 and August 2012, respectively). As patents run out, these and other popular prescription drugs will be far more affordable in the U.S., since generic drug prices tend to be lower here than in other countries. (more…)

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A new post on RxRights.org explains how the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)’s Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program wrongly misleads consumers and the media by tagging all non-U.S. online pharmacies that sell to Americans as “rogue.” Essentially, that program’s list includes dangerous rogue online pharmacies along with reputable online pharmacies that meet high standards of safety but are simply not based in the United States. American consumers should expect more from pharmacy regulatory authorities and deserve to be properly informed. By adding properly verified international online pharmacies to the list, NABP scares Americans away from safe and affordable sources of medication. RxRight.org alerts the public that NABP’s program was sponsored with a grant from the drug giant Pfizer.

The post also deconstructs the ridiculous notion that only “FDA-approved” drugs are safe.  It explains that the same exact drug purchased from a Canadian pharmacy (or any non-U.S. pharmacy) that is sold in the United States is “Not FDA-approved.” How can that be if it’s the same drug? There are many reasons, but one primary reason is labeling. FDA-approved drugs include approval of the drug’s specific labeling. That means that virtually all drugs sold in Canada that are compositionally identical to those sold in the United States are not “FDA-approved” because their labeling is different (such as including information in French and English), but of course they are equally as safe.

PharmacyChecker.com applauds RxRights.org for exposing misinformation campaigns sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry meant to scare Americans away from safe and affordable online pharmacies, wrongly inform the media, and shape our nation’s laws and regulations.

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As the retrial of former Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges commences, we’d like to re-direct your attention to the personal drug importation program he championed. Had that program received better backing from our politicians, fewer Americans would have gone without needed medications.

In October of 2004, a personal drug importation program called I-Save Rx was launched under the leadership of Blagojevich and then Congressman Rahm Immanuel. The lead pharmacist responsible for the program’s development was Ram Kamath, PharmD, now Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications for PharmacyChecker.com. I-Save Rx showed state residents how to access affordable medication from approved pharmacies in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Within just seven months, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas and Vermont had joined the initiative, allowing their residents to participate as well.

Unfortunately, after its approval, the government did not market the I-Save Rx program and it suffered due a lack of political will. But I-Save Rx’s creation proved that government could, without much difficulty, create a program to facilitate the purchase of affordable medication from Canada and other countries. In fact, our current Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, was governor of Kansas when she approved the program for use by her state’s residents. It should speak volumes that the administration official now tasked by President Obama with “protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves” approved of a personal drug importation program and made it available to the residents of Kansas. (more…)

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