Updated: Oct 31
The Orlando Sentinel published on their website the below piece by CPPI Executive Director, Bryan Tackett. You can see our position below. Click here to read the full feature from the actual newspaper.
By Bryan Tackett
July 31, 2015
Years ago, seniors living near the Canadian border would board buses (with their elected officials) and drive north to fill their prescriptions. Why? Because the same medications could be purchased in Canada for a fraction of the cost here. Now, instead of boarding buses, Americans have the convenience of finding their daily medications for chronic health conditions online and ordering them from Canadian pharmacies. I support this wholeheartedly.
Recently, I read the Kaiser Health Survey that talked about how millions of Americans don’t take their needed medications because they simply cannot afford them. For seniors and others on fixed or limited incomes, this can mean chronic conditions spiral into life-threatening illnesses — paid for by the taxpayers because so many patients are on Medicare or Medicaid. This impacts the health-care system more broadly, driving up costs for all of us.
More than 1 million Floridians, and millions across the U.S., have purchased safe and affordable health-maintenance drugs from online Canadian pharmacies for over a decade. Despite what the U.S. pharmaceutical industry would have you believe, there are legitimate and licensed Canadian pharmacies advertising online that require a valid prescription from an American physician, discuss with the consumer his or her personal health history to ensure no negative drug interactions, and protect patient privacy and information. Shouldn’t we encourage those who are on fixed or limited incomes and can’t afford their medications to turn to legitimate online pharmacies abroad? I think so.
Now, you’ll hear all sorts of excuses about why this is bad for Americans. Opponents of personal importation use legalese to convince you “foreign drugs” aren’t safe because they aren’t FDA-approved. The implication is all pharmaceuticals purchased in the U.S. are made here. But that’s simply not true. In fact, FDA officials have said many times that 40 percent of the finished medications used by Americans are not produced here. Rather, many of the drugs we take daily are manufactured in facilities outside the U.S. Yet, regardless of where the medications are manufactured, they are extremely expensive in America — more than 50 percent higher than in most other industrialized countries.
The naysayers and scaremongers paint all online pharmacies with the same, broad brush: If they aren’t in the U.S., they are “rogues.” But let’s be honest about the real motivation here. Pharmaceutical companies have some of the world’s highest corporate profits. Allowing personal importation of medications from Canada is bad for their bottom line. Never mind what it means for the health of Americans, or the risks involved by making medication unreasonably expensive at home to those most in need.
Sure, bad actors exist. As with anything on the Internet, consumers should do their homework to ensure they’re dealing with reputable and trustworthy organizations. Such legitimate pharmacies exist — including many that seniors once reached by bus in Canada.
Politicians who rarely agree are recognizing this problem and are taking action to get affordable medications to Americans who need them most. Recently, U.S. Sens. John McCain and Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Dana Rohrabacher re-introduced legislation to make the common practice of importation from Canada fully accessible to Americans.
As my parents enter their well-deserved retirement years, they shouldn’t have to choose between buying food or their medications. They’ve already asked me about importation from Canada and are using a legitimate, licensed pharmacy there. I hope Floridians and other Americans will soon have the chance to safely import their health-maintenance drugs as well.
Bryan Tackett is executive director of the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation.
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