Kaiser Poll Show Support for Personal Imporatation

Kaiser Poll Show Support for Personal Imporatation

Friday, May 4, 2012

Stop Online Piracy Act endangers health of millions

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) claimed by its sponsors to be the answer to protecting the intellectual property of Americans—an admirable goal—is the latest example that will without doubt lead to unintended consequences that will affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans by denying them access to safe, affordable medicines from reputable pharmacies in countries outside the U.S. .
Furthermore, the proposed legislation will not meet its goals, because it will create an unworkable and vague enforcement trigger that does not rely upon a system of law and courts, but instead that allows the Justice Department to cede to private entities the right to initiate action against individuals or websites, with such action carrying with it an assumption of guilt of the party being charged.
I shall leave it to Constitutional experts to illustrate the questionable constitutionality of SOPA. However, I believe it almost certainly will be used as a weapon against free speech and differences of opinion by some who will claim that a promotion of a product or service t violates the intellectual property right of the entity making the charge.
This includes, but is not limited to, the Pharmaceutical industry (Pharma)—an industry whose pricing practices have imposed the highest-cost drugs in the World upon Americans.
This has led to Americans using their common sense and exercising their right—and ability—to make personal health care decisions for more than a decade to purchase safe, affordable medicines. These are the very same ones that would cost at much as 60 percent more,if purchased in the U.S., rather than from reputable sources in other countries, countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the United States.
The passage of SOPA would endanger that capability by allowing Pharma to initiate actions against websites or individuals that Pharma could claim was promoting infringement upon its intellectual property rights.
I have mentioned unexpected consequences, Unfortunately, the stage for those consequences has been set by recognized consequences of the pricing of medicines in the U.S.
· As the skyrocketing costs of brand name drugs leave millions of Americans skipping doses or abandoning their prescriptions, investors representing 14 faith and health care organizations are petitioning the nation's top pharmaceutical companies to re-examine pricing for commonly used drugs like Lipitor, Plavix and Celebrex in an effort to make them more affordable;
· Cost of heart drugs makes patients skip pills, putting themselves at risk (Mayo Clinic);
· U.S. prescription drug spending will grow 93% during 2008-2018, exceeding all major categories of health expenditures (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services);
· Americans failing to fill prescriptions or not taking their medicines as prescribed because of costs of medicines (Consumer Reports);
· Bi-partisan identification of the problem of healthcare costs in resolving our fiscal crisis (Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), former Senator John Danforth (R-MO);
· Reports of Seniors falling Into Doughnut Hole buying fewer drugs (Kaiser Family Foundation);
· As many as one in ten elderly people in the US, registered with Medicare, not have access to their prescribed medication because it is too expensive (Dr. Larissa Nekhlyudov and colleagues from Harvard Medical School);
It is staggering to consider the negative impact—an unexpected consequence--that will occur as millions of Americans who rely upon personal importation of their safe and affordable medicines find that they must now be without their vital medicines because of legislation supposedly designed to protect American intellectual propert without any consideration of its impact because of the proposal’s vague language.
Fortunately, there is also recognition of the beneficial role of personal importation of vital medicines in protecting the health of Americans:
· Recognition of the ‘safety valve’ function of personal importation in preventing prescription medicine prices from going even higher “Basically, what’s going on with Canada is a little bit of leakage, It’s a release valve so that American consumers don’t get more upset with the prices’’ ( Arthur A. Daemmrich, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School);
· Formation of a Congressional Caucus by Representatives Joanne Emerson (R-MO) and Peter Welch (D-VT) to work to lower prescription drug prices (Representative Emerson is a long-time supporter of personal importation of prescription medicines);
· Adoption of a new policy by the FDA facilitating importation of ingredients for pharmaceutical manufacture in the U.S. to address drug shortages in this country via reciprocal agreements with regulatory agencies in other countries, validating a process of reciprocity long advocated by supporters of personal importation;
· Numerous private and government support systems exist to help ease the cost for America's poor, but there are still millions of patients who are uninsured, and many who can't find cheap medicines in the U.S. look abroad To avoid high prices at home, U.S. patients have trekked to Canada for decades to buy their medicines… pharma companies and myriad industry-funded groups have scared Americans into believing that drugs from overseas pharmacies are inherently dangerous (American Enterprise Institiute);
· Introduction of legislation by Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) supporting personal importation to relieve the growing problem of shortages of medicines in the U.S..
So it is now up to the House of Representatives to act, aware that if they sow the wind of SOPA, they will reap the whirlwind of endangering the health of millions of Americans who rely upon personal importation of their prescriptions medicines.
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