Amidst Washington’s vapid attempt at “solving” healthcare, Americans continue dealing with the everyday obstacles that come with prioritizing our families’ health, and all the while, prescription drug costs just keep rising. Minority communities are particularly at risk.
The crisis of rising drug costs expands beyond minority groups, but studies show that Hispanics are more likely to forgo filling a prescription due to cost than the population at large. Worse, as immigrants increasingly fear leaving their homes, undocumented immigrants will be less likely to get needed medications. Wherever you stand on the immigration issue, this trend is unacceptable and must be combatted by educating all people about lower cost drugs available abroad, but some people are getting this wrong…
In a recent op-ed written by Garfield Clunie and Richard Williams and published in Morning Consult, a well-meaning yet dangerous claim is made—that “if [Congress permits the importation of prescription medicines from other countries], the United States government will actually be promoting the use of counterfeit and unsafe medications.” This is simply false.
Safe importation occurs already. There are thousands of rogue online pharmacies out there, but that is why PharmacyChecker.com and importation advocates are so passionate about our work verifying those that are practicing high safety standards.
Through the PharmacyChecker.com Verification Program, we evaluate online pharmacies by checking that they meet high standards of practice. With your wallet in mind, we then provide price comparisons for medications sold through those approved pharmacies. “No one living in the U.S. should have to forgo filling a prescription because of high drug prices, especially when lower prices on the same drugs are available to informed consumers,” says Tod Cooperman, M.D., CEO of PharmacyChecker.com.
Clunie and Williams argue that drug importation decreases quality of health care for minorities. “Given the fact…that African-Americans and Latinos have a greater incidence rate of the illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease that require medications, the odds are greater that they will be consuming medicines that are either lacking the necessary active ingredients or have chemicals that could further shorten their lives,” they conclude. Again, untrue if they are properly and honestly educated about importation. Many medications you find online at pharmacies approved in the PharmacyChecker.com Verification Program are the exact same drugs you can buy in the United States, distributed by the very same manufacturer, and others are lawfully-manufactured foreign versions. This means access to medicines that have equivalent ingredients for much cheaper—sometimes up to 90%.
Given that African Americans and Latinos are at a greater risk of illness, shouldn’t we aim to support policies that aid their access to affordable medication? Fear mongering minorities, even unintentionally, about importation undermines their access to affordable medicines. When it comes to the Latino community, especially, so many do not have health insurance, putting them at greater risk of being unable to afford medication.
In light of this crisis of prescription drug costs, PharmacyChecker.com supports the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, which would formally legalize the importation of lower cost medications from Canada by wholesalers for re-sale and individuals for personal use. The FDA should begin distinguishing between counterfeit and adulterated drugs from lower cost imported medication, with an emphasis on public health rather than technical restrictions on personal drug importation.
We believe that consumers deserve a choice when it comes to their medications and should enjoy the common-sense systems and competition the Internet has fueled across all industry sectors. Through buying medication online from verified online pharmacies, families can find the same medication that is sold in the United States for a fraction of the cost.
The threats of counterfeit drugs or rogue sites are real. Not every online pharmacy is created equal. The PharmacyChecker Verification Program is led by Kelly Ann Barnes, a licensed U.S. pharmacist for over 20 years and former Director of Pharmacy Quality Assurance for the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy. Online pharmacies that are approved in the Verification Program are continually monitored for compliance and are authorized to publish the PharmacyChecker.com seal on their websites. The only pharmacies that make it on our verified list must be licensed, require a valid prescription, provide confirmed contact information, protect personal information, and encrypt financial data transmissions, among many other safety standards that we verify and enforce. These are the high safety standards that consumers can rely on.
Leaving patients in the dark on the advantages of safe importation does not benefit public health; it very much so harms it. There is a prescription drug disaster in this country, and we must leave no human being behind in facing it.garfield clunie, minorities, Online Pharmacies, personal drug importation, richard williams
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