PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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We recently reported that Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IW) voiced his vehement support for legalizing drug importation to lower brand name drug prices, in an attempt to bring greater fairness to the market. We’re now pleased to report the first bill of the year calling for the reform of our nation’s current laws that seem to protect the pharmaceutical industry to the detriment of the American consumer.

On January 5th, 2011, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced the Prescription Drug Affordability Act, which would amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. We applaud the bill’s intent because it seeks to do away with unfair trade laws and policies applied to drug pricing by allowing Americans to purchase lower cost prescription drugs safely from other countries without the threat of prosecution. Congressman Paul has introduced similarly named bills in prior years that have not become law. As the need for affordable medication is now greater than ever, H.R. 147 should stand a better chance at becoming law.

If passed into law, the bill, H.R. 147, would repeal the provisions in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) that ban the importation of prescription drugs (by anyone except the drug manufacturer) that were once exported – referred to as “re-importation” – from the United States.

The bill is only about 800 words long, but due to the complexity of the amended laws its provisions will be subject to different interpretations if passed. For instance, by amending, specifically, the “re-importation” section of the FDCA, the focus seems to be on drugs that were approved for sale in the United States, physically stored in the United States, and then exported for sale in another country. On the other hand, the bill’s provisions also seem to allow any person to become a registered importer of prescription drugs as long as the drugs are approved by the FDA. In this case, since many popular drugs approved by the FDA are manufactured overseas and sold in foreign pharmacies, perhaps importing drugs from foreign pharmacies would become technically legal as well.

In terms of online pharmacies, what is most interesting about the bill is that it bans the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and subsequently the Food and Drug Administration, from taking any action against a person who imports prescription drugs, within the parameters of the FDCA through an order placed on the Internet.  This provision seems to codify current practice in which individuals who import non-controlled prescription drugs, ordered from online pharmacies, for personal use are not being prosecuted.

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