Thursday, June 16, 2011

Americans' access to personal importation of brand-name prescription medicines from Tier One Countries threatened by proposed legislation

As the debate continues over what is commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare’, one would think that there would be universal support for an effort that has a more than decade long record of lowering health care costs, providing vital, safe—and affordable medicines—that have contributed to the health and well-being of millions of Americans, and done so at no cost to local, state or Federal governmental agencies.

We’re talking about the right of Americans to purchase brand-name prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One countries outside the U.S. whose standards and oversight of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those in the U.S.

But, instead of support of this recognition of the right—and ability—of Americans to make responsible decisions in the selection of these legitimate pharmacies for the purchase of brand name prescription medicines at savings of as much as 60 percent compared to what they would have to pay for the very same medicines if purchased in the U.S., the U.S. Senate is advancing legislation that could empower the Pharmaceutical Industry (Pharma) to use what many believe are Constitutionally questionable legal maneuvers to deny more than one million Americans the ability to order safe, affordable brand-name medicines from outside the U.S. via the Internet.

The Protect Intellectual Property Act (Protect IP) has been introduced by Senator Frank Leahy (D-VT), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to supposedly protect American Intellectual property such as Copyrights from being used in counterfeit items.

Protect IP was authored by Senator Leahy after there was a vigorous outcry of opposition to an earlier anti-counterfeiting bill advanced by the Senator because fears that its vagueness could be used to tread upon legitimate debate on public issues. The first proposal never came to a vote in the Senate because Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)exercise a personal objection that prevented a vote.

Senator Leahy’s solution to the objection has been to bring forth an even more onerous proposal that contains specific language of the type supported by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) in its ongoing campaign against Americans exercising their right to the health and cost benefits of purchase of brand-name medicines from reputable pharmacies with the highest standards of safety and efficacy.

The Protect IP Act would create a situation in which the Obama Administration's Justice Department would abdicate its responsibility to 'enforce' intellectual property rights to the private sector.

This means that Pharma could not only initiate legal action against anyone it believes has 'infringed' upon its intellectual property s, it could extend that action to websites whose advertising support includes pharmacies involved in personal importation. Many believe that the proposal would allow Pharma to initiate action against a website that supports the concept of personal importation, thereby limiting free speech and open debate.

If that is not disturbing enough, Pharma could seek an immediate injunction against anyone it

'believes' has committed infringement in some form or another, all the while doing so

free of any action against it should its suit be found to not have merit.

In the past decade, Congress has repeatedly passed legislation over the supporting the concept of personal importation of these medicines as the only viable option available to lowering the cost of prescription medicines in this country.

Such initiatives have faltered in the face of extensive lobbying by Pharma as it uses its vast resources to deter final passage with such gimmicks as ‘poison pills’ amendments that would place unnecessary restrictions upon personal importation such as ‘certification’ in addition to the rules and laws of the country from which the prescription was dispensed by adding a layer of ‘oversight’ which was really nothing more than the U.S. Congress responding to the intensive lobbying of Pharma lobbyists.

That’s why RxforAmericanHealth.com has launched an on-line petition supporting access for more than one million Americans to personal importation of safe, affordable brand-name prescription medicines. We must let Congress and other policy-makers know that this concerted effort by Pharma to protect its ability to continue to charge Americans the highest prices for prescription medicines in the world is totally unacceptable.

Instead, it is time for Congress and the Obama Administration to remove the ‘Safe Haven’ that Pharma enjoys to continue its predatory pricing practices and make the health and well-being of hard-pressed Americans for whom personal importation can provide not only improved health that access to a regimen of vital medicines provides, as well as offering the best strategy to relief from the high prescription medicine prices that are a major driver of the cost of healthcare in the United States.