In its wisdom and activist spirit, Vermont has a new law on the books allowing for the wholesale importation of FDA-approved drugs from authorized wholesalers in Canada. Canadian wholesale pharmacies sell many brand-name drugs at much lower costs than their U.S. counterparts. This could help patients pay lower prices at local pharmacies and the state to save money on its pharmacy bills.
Some people (oh, I don’t know, ones sponsored by Big Pharma) are saying that the drug importation program is illegal. Let me tell you why that’s ridiculous – and I’m using a kind word. The new law does not allow pharmacies in Vermont to import medication from Canadian wholesale pharmacies; at least not yet. Instead, Vermont will ask permission from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement an importation program. It will try and prove to the department that its program will be safe and compliant with federal law. If the Secretary of Health and Human Services certifies the program, which is permissible under current law, only then will Vermont bear the fruits of its labors and begin importing from Canada.
I wrote more extensively about similar legislation introduced in Utah, which passed the House but failed to make it through the Utah Senate. Here’s that analysis: Rep. Norman Thurston’s Utah Drug Importation Bill. It explains, mostly, what this bill is and is not.
What’s amazing and motivating is that Vermont passed this bill 29-0 in the Senate, and 141-2 in the House. Vermont is not putting up with pharma’s bull on importation anymore.
Word up, Vermont!
Tagged with: Vermont
As the retrial of former Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges commences, we’d like to re-direct your attention to the personal drug importation program he championed. Had that program received better backing from our politicians, fewer Americans would have gone without needed medications.
In October of 2004, a personal drug importation program called I-Save Rx was launched under the leadership of Blagojevich and then Congressman Rahm Immanuel. The lead pharmacist responsible for the program’s development was Ram Kamath, PharmD, now Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications for PharmacyChecker.com. I-Save Rx showed state residents how to access affordable medication from approved pharmacies in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Within just seven months, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas and Vermont had joined the initiative, allowing their residents to participate as well.
Unfortunately, after its approval, the government did not market the I-Save Rx program and it suffered due a lack of political will. But I-Save Rx’s creation proved that government could, without much difficulty, create a program to facilitate the purchase of affordable medication from Canada and other countries. In fact, our current Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, was governor of Kansas when she approved the program for use by her state’s residents. It should speak volumes that the administration official now tasked by President Obama with “protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves” approved of a personal drug importation program and made it available to the residents of Kansas. (more…)
Tagged with: Americans, Blagojevich, Canada, Dr. Ram Kamath, Drug Importation, Health Secretary, I-Save RX, Ireland, Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, Missouri, President Obama, public health, Rahm Immanuel, Retrial, United Kingdom, United States, Vermont, Wisconsin