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The Future of Online Pharmacy Drug Affordability in 2012 – A New Year’s Overview

Our blog was created on behalf of the American consumer, to inform Americans, and the larger community interested in public health, about issues relating to personal drug importation, online pharmacies and drug prices. The three issues are inextricably linked; Americans are able to personally import prescription drugs from safe online pharmacies at affordable drug prices. This has helped millions of Americans, most without health insurance and, or, pharmacy benefits, afford needed medication. In fact, many Americans personally import safe medication that they would otherwise go without if their only options were U.S. pharmacies. Stopping them from doing so would be unacceptable, unethical, and a threat to the public health, and yet we find that is precisely the outcome for 2012 sought by the pharmaceutical and U.S. pharmacy industries.

Under U.S. law it is, in most circumstances, illegal to personally import prescription medication. For over a decade now, Americans have nonetheless taken matters into their own hands by acquiring the non-controlled medication they need outside the United States; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has, for the most part, not stopped them. Throughout this period, the pharmaceutical industry has vigorously lobbied against personal drug importation to combat the price competition it brings, which means greater drug affordability for Americans but lower profits for pharmaceutical companies and sometimes U.S. pharmacies.

And their efforts have flourished. Over the past couple of years we have closely followed political, legislative and pharmaceutical industry initiatives to overhaul the status quo by bringing  an end to online access to affordable medication. At the crux of these anti-consumer efforts is their communications strategy of deceptively attempting to link safe international online pharmacies, which require a valid prescription, with rogue online pharmacies that sell dangerous medication and don’t require a prescription, as if they operate a single black market in deadly counterfeit drugs that needs shutting down. Through these efforts, they have scared Americans away from safe and affordable medication, but their final goal is actually stopping the trade all together.

While there are safe online pharmacies, domestic and foreign, there is a real danger of counterfeit and deadly drugs sold throughout the world, including the United States’ own supply, and through rogue online pharmacies, so let’s attack the true dangers! However, it is neither morally defensible nor necessary to prevent Americans from online access to safe international online pharmacies that sell genuine and affordable medication, often at an 80% discount.  

How loudly must we remind our leaders of the government’s own dire statistics? Twenty-five million Americans couldn’t afford to fill their prescription in 2009 (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Even worse, the Commonwealth Fund’s findings show that 48 million Americans did not fill a prescription in 2010 due to cost, a 66% increase in non-adherence since 2001 (see RxSOS). When people don’t take their medicine they can get sick and even die – and the reality is that too often they do.

Safe international online pharmacies may not be the long term solution to the emergency gripping the country in which so many go without needed medication due to cost, but for now such sites provide a lifeline for approximately one million Americans each year. Cutting that lifeline poses a danger to the public health and is just plain wrong.

In 2012 we hope our elected officials and policy-makers will have the courage to stop federal and legislative actions, mostly pushed by the pharmaceutical industry that would block online access to safe and affordable medication. Such leaders are desperately needed now by the tens of millions of Americans who can’t afford prescription drugs in the United States.  

To help protect online access to safe and affordable medication we encourage Americans to join and work with, a non-profit organization dedicated to this cause.

Wishing You A Healthy and Happy New Year.

Gabriel Levit
Vice President

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