· Personal Importation of safe, affordable prescription medicines from countries outside the U.S was spurred more than a decade ago as a reaction to the fact that the U.S. has the highest prescription drug prices in the world.
· Personal importation of prescription medicines is the only option available to provide lower-cost brand name medicines for Americans.
· These medicines—from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One countries with standards of oversight that meet or exceed those of the U.S.—have provided health benefits and financial relief to hundreds of thousands of Americans.
· The U.S. Congress has through repeated votes in the House and Senate expressed its support of the concept of making personally imported medicines available to U.S. citizens from pharmacies in Tier One countries.
· While a rash of bogus pharmacies and counterfeit medicines has arisen on the Internet, legitimate on-line pharmacies have taken extraordinary steps to distinguish themselves from bogus pharmacies.
· The pharmaceutical industry and its trade group (PhRMA) have targeted the right of personal importation of prescription medicines, which, ironically, they themselves have manufactured.
· The latest attempt to curtail access to personal importation is to define any online pharmacy from outside the U.S. as ‘bogus’ , even if an online pharmacy has met the standards of safety and efficacy of its practice required by the appropriate regulatory agency of its government.
Opponents of personal importation have taken steps that indicate they hope to use the anti-counterfeiting intent of The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act as a rationale to claim that even licensed, registered pharmacies would be guilty of infringement of Copyright and Intellectual property rights
This would make the pharmacy liable to enforcement provisions of The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act which include, but are not limited to, the shutting down of domains and websites not only of the pharmacy, but could be extended to the sites of advocacy groups and individuals that support personal importation.
· Because of that, specific legislative language should be included in The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act to ensure that the legislation meets its intended purpose, and cannot be co-opted by special interest groups that would utilize the bill to meet their own narrow interests.
Without the inclusion of language to more carefully define the intent of The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act the stage would be set for the pharmaceutical industry to take actions to restrict the right of Americans to enjoy the health benefits provided by safe, vital medicines that they otherwise could not afford.