This week, while President Biden delivers his State of the Union address, Americans’ access to affordable prescription medication is in great jeopardy, says the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI) in a new statement. With Congressional debate over Medicare drug price negotiations at an impasse, CPPI warns that the DRUGS Act (‘Domain Reform for Unlawful Drug Sellers Act, S.3399 & H.R.6352), a bill introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Marco Rubio (FL) and Representatives David McKinley (WV) and Bobby Rush (IL), would rob millions of Americans of critical daily medications.
“The state of Americans’ access to affordable medication is in jeopardy as legislation backed by Big Pharma takes aim at shutting down access to licensed international pharmacies that millions depend on for critical daily prescriptions,” says Jack Pfeiffer, Executive Director of the Campaign for the Personal Prescription Importation. “While one in three Americans struggle to afford health costs, it is shameful for Congress to rob the sick of importation, one of the only affordable options many depend on to access life-saving prescriptions.”
Since January, CPPI members have sent nearly 25,000 letters to Congress requesting that the Drugs Act legislation be dropped and personal prescription importation be protected. Here are statements from three such letters:
“The DRUGS Act would rob Americans like me of one of the only avenues for safe and affordable prescription medications: licensed international pharmacies. I buy my stomach medication Dexilant (the only one still working for me after many years) from Canada. My insurance doesn’t cover it, and without insurance, it’s around $900 for a three-month supply in the U.S. The same medication from Canada costs $200.” – Lenny Ayzikovich of Minnesota
“It is unfair to make Americans pay through the nose for their drugs. Our health is a priority in our lives and we need our medications to lead a healthy life. Being forced to pay exorbitant prices is a travesty! What the DRUGS Act proposes is wrong, and it will hurt millions of people.” – Alice Dressler of Florida
“The DRUGS Act would mean that my prescription for Xifaxan 550 mg would cost between $13,000 to $18,000 per 30 pills instead of $128.00 for 100 pills through Canada. There is no generic available in the U.S. I suffer from debilitating IBS and stomach issues multiple times a year. PLEASE DO NOT pass this DRUG ACT!” – Carole Harris of North Carolina
The DRUGS Act targets the closure of international pharmacies – pharmacies that millions of Americans depend on for safe and affordable drugs. Meanwhile, the lawmakers introducing the DRUGS Act, claim the bill fights against opioids, fentanyl, and the illegal sale of controlled substances; but, the bill does not even mention the words opioids or fentanyl. Safe, licensed international pharmacies require valid prescriptions and don’t sell controlled substances. In truth, the special interest groups backing the DRUGS Act, which are funded by pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists, have made a habit of shamelessly exploiting the opioid crisis to attack prescription importation from international pharmacies. There is even evidence that DRUGS Act supporter NABP took $1 million dollars from Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive opioid painkiller OxyContin.
The CDC estimates that more than 5 million Americans import medications and their leading reason for importing medications is cost, as they find average annual savings of over $3,700 a year from licensed Canadian pharmacies. Over 800 drugs have increased in price since the start of 2022. According to AARP, brand-name drug prices increased an average of 276.8% between 2006 and 2020, compared to the cumulative general inflation rate of 32% during the same period.
Restrictions to medication access caused by costs can be deadly, says the National Bureau of Economic Research and West Health Policy Center. High drug prices are putting access to medication out of reach for millions of Americans. According to Gallup, 30% of Americans now report forgoing treatment in the prior three months due to costs, and at least 18 million can’t afford medications.
“The DRUGS Act would put Americans in jeopardy. Congress must not cut Americans off from access to their prescription medications at a time when U.S. drug prices are as high as ever,” says Pfeiffer.