This week, I attended ASOP Foundation’s symposium titled: “Spotlight on Illegal Online Sales of Medicine.” ASOP is short for the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies. That organization, which started with funding from Eli Lilly and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, has often received criticism on these blog pages. Like other Pharma-funded initiatives, its goals are aligned with the pharmaceutical industry and one of its main objectives is lobbying against personal drug importation. It often conflates, through its public education programs, safe international online pharmacies with dangerous rogue websites. However, a good part of its work is helping raise awareness and policy development to stop rogue sellers of counterfeit and substandard medicines from harming patients, and that’s something PharmacyChecker is 100% behind.
Much of ASOP’s work was the brainchild of LegitScript, a founder of ASOP. Truth be told, PharmacyChecker is the expert in safe international online pharmacies and providing consumers with useful guidance about them, but LegitScript/ASOP are the experts in rogue online pharmacies and pushing policies to shut them down. It’s disheartening that they seemingly refuse to separate safe importation from rogue online drug sellers. But I’ll put that aside for now.
I’m going to focus today’s post mostly on presentations by two high-ranking FDA officials. The first was the morning’s keynote speaker, Donald Ashley, JD, FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director of Compliance. His focus was the FDA’s efforts to combat illegal opioid sales online and those being imported through international mail facilities. I’ve written about how such actions can be used against safe personal drug imports. While that would be unfortunate, Mr. Ashley was meticulous in communicating that his efforts are strictly focused on opioids: shutting down fentanyl and other opioid-selling sites; detecting and stopping illegal opioid imports; and, through the Office of Criminal Investigations, charging and prosecuting these online opioid drug dealers.
Tagged with: Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
This past month, Congress passed a flurry of bills dedicated to stopping the devastation of the opioid crisis. One focus is on stopping illegal opioid imports from coming in though the U.S. mail. The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act, which passed in the House, is one such bill. But as I wrote in the The Hill last year, the STOP Act could also enable the FDA to more easily prevent Americans from importing lower-cost, safe and effective medicines from Canada and other countries.
The FDA is also fighting the opioid crisis by scrutinizing the Internet as a channel of illegal sales. That, too, could lead to the curtailment of access to lower-cost, imported medicines from pharmacies, ones which don’t sell opioids or controlled drugs at all, but do help people afford medicines.
Ideally, people who use a search engine, such as Google, find information based on an objective search algorithm. With tens of millions of Americans not filling prescriptions due to high prices here at home, many are Googling to find and order cheaper medication from international online pharmacies. (more…)
Tagged with: Enforcement, Google, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Volokh Conspiracy
The simple answer is that tens of millions of Americans cannot afford prescription drugs here in the United States because they’re too expensive. Meanwhile, drug prices outside the U.S. are much lower – often 80% lower. Americans skipping or not taking prescription drugs is a national emergency largely going ignored in our healthcare debate.
Here are the facts about Americans skipping medication due to drug prices:
1. 25 million Americans did not take prescribed medication in 2009 due to cost, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1997 to 2009, the percentage of Americans not taking their medications due to cost nearly doubled increasing from 4.8 to 8.4%.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus10.pdf#highlights
2. 48 million Americans ages 19-64 did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2010, according to the Commonwealth Fund – a 66% increase since 2001.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2010 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Surveys/2011/Mar/2010-Biennial-Health-Insurance-Survey.aspx.
3. 3.4 million Medicare enrollees stop taking their medication due to the coverage gap.
Source: Polinski JM, Shrank WH, Huskamp HA, Glynn RJ, Liberman JN, et al. 2011 Changes in Drug Utilization during a Gap in Insurance Coverage: An Examination of the Medicare Part D Coverage Gap. PLoS Medicine.
4. Prescription non-adherence adds $290 billion to America’s healthcare costs.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 76 FR 12969. March 2011. http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/03/09/2011-5287/campaign-to-improve-poor-medication-adherence-u18.
Access our RxSOS fact sheet here.
Tagged with: Commonwealth Fund, coverage gap, Drug Prices, FDA, FDA warnings, healthcare, international pharmacies, Medicare, National Center for Health Statistics, PLoS, prescription non-adherence, prescriptions, Public Library of Science, safety, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, United States