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In a survey of American patients who import medications conducted by the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation, 89% say that lifting restrictions on credit card processing for international online prescription drug purchases would ease access to more affordable medications. This Friday’s, May 28, deadline for Health and Human Services to respond to PhRMA’s lawsuit (No. 1:20-cv-03402) could serve as a litmus test for the Biden Administration’s support for prescription importation. Expanded regulatory support for prescription importation could help lower credit card processing barriers for American patients seeking affordable medications from online international pharmacies.

Millions of individual patients who can’t afford the high cost of prescriptions in the U.S. purchase their prescription medications from licensed overseas pharmacies. However, some credit card companies have decided to restrict the credit card processing abilities for international online prescription drug sales.

“All Americans should have access to safe and affordable prescription drugs. Inexplicable restrictions to credit card processing should not be an additional barrier for struggling American patients to access life-saving medications,” says CPPI Executive Director Jack Pfeiffer.

Key Findings

  • 89% of survey respondents say permitting credit card processing on the purchase of prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies would improve access.

  • 89% say using a credit card to make purchases, including purchases of prescription medications is important to very important.

  • 65% of patients prefer purchasing their medication online with a credit card over other payment methods

CPPI conducted this online survey between April 22 and May 22, 2021, based on the universe of CPPI followers.

Unclear why credit card companies are restricting patient transactions

It is unclear exactly why credit card companies have chosen to restrict patients’ purchases of prescription medications from licensed international pharmacies. The FDA has guidance for personal importation of drugs that provides circumstances in which products can be brought into the U.S. in September 2020 the FDA finalized a rule that would allow prescription drug importation from Canada in FDA-authorized programs. The final rule, part of the White House’s Safe Importation Action Plan, fulfills the aspect of the previous executive order, which will allow states to import certain prescription drugs from Canada.

Like the FDA, Congress has repeatedly sought to protect Americans’ ability to import medicines for personal use. Most recently in the Support for Patients and Communities Act (Public Law 115-217), Congress explicitly sought to prevent restrictions on Americans importing medicines in an amount, frequency, or dosage consistent with personal or household use.

How Could This Be Corrected?

A decision by HHS and the Biden Administration to support the Trump-era executive orders on prescription importation could be the key to unlocking credit card transactions for patients seeking affordable prescription drugs from online international pharmacies.

Two pieces of legislation pending in the House and Senate, could also alleviate the block that many credit card processors place on the purchase of medications from international pharmacies. Both the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2021 (S.259, H.R.832) and The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act of 2021 (S.920, H.R. 2181) would expand support for prescription importation and fully codify individuals rights to safely import prescription drugs from Canada.

“American patients are looking to our leaders in government to take action in expanding access to affordable prescription drugs,” said Jack Pfeiffer.

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