Using very similar talking points to Big Pharma-funded experts, in its quest to “educate” the public about the dangers of internet pharmacies and personal medicine imports, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) appears to have ignored the greatest pharmacy-related public health travesty happening right under its nose. Since the beginning of this century, billions of prescription opioid pills were wrongly, and in many cases unlawfully, pushed on and distributed to Americans. The result is about 500,000 deaths since 1999. The main culprits in sowing this drug epidemic are usually identified as big pharmaceutical companies and distributors.
Citing the case of the Rochester Drug Cooperative, I have asked before where the NABP was in tackling this opioid crisis. I was mostly referring to its quasi-regulatory role in certifying wholesale pharmacies through its Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributors (VAWD) program because all major distributors accredited through VAWD – AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health – have been implicated in the opioid epidemic. As reported in the New York Times last week, a new court filing provides details showing how major U.S. pharmacy retail giants – including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walmart – were “as complicit in perpetuating the crisis as the manufacturers and distributors of the addictive drugs.”
Yesterday, I was asked by Ed Silverman of STAT NEWS’ Pharmalot
for my thoughts about a report by the Office of Inspector General, Department
of Health and Human Services (OIG). The report is an audit of companies in the
drug supply chain to test compliance with regulations called for by the Drug
Supply Chain Security Act of 2013 (DSCSA). In short, as reported
in STAT, OIG found that seven out of 44 drugs audited could not be traced
back to the manufacturer in the manner required under the DSCSA. Add to that,
the physical locations of 21 drugs could not be determined. Since most drugs
subject to DSCSA are made overseas and imported, Mr. Silverman wanted to know
if this audit impacted drug importation proposals and plans in the works to
lower drug prices. The answer is probably no. The report appears to be a
worthwhile effort to test compliance with DSCSA. However, use of the word
“legitimate” is found in the DSCSA, and that word is often misused by opponents
of drug importation and international online pharmacies – and that got me
thinking. I’m sick of that word.
As I wrote
a few weeks back, PharmacyChecker
filed an antitrust lawsuit against five organizations that we believe are largely
funded or backed by pharmaceutical companies. We allege that these
organizations have conspired to illegally suppress competition in the areas of online
pharmacy verification services and drug price comparisons on the Internet. The
organizations are the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP),
Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP), Partnership for Safe Medicines
(PSM), LegitScript, and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP).
As part of that suit, we filed a motion for preliminary
injunction to immediately stop the NABP from including PharmacyChecker.com and
this blogsite on its “Not Recommended Sites” list. That list was created to
ostensibly identify rogue online pharmacies but has included safe international
online pharmacies from its very inception. More recently NABP’s oversight has
been expanded, apparently, to also include sites—such as this blog—that help
consumers avoid rogue online pharmacies and find affordable drug prices!