Monday, January 30, 2017

Blog Publisher calls for HHS Designee to state support for President Trump's campaign pledge on Personal Importation


 A medicine that is unaffordable is inherently unavailable, and a medicine that is unavailable and not able to be afforded is a medicine that is denied”
— Daniel Hines
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, USA, January 30, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- The Publisher of  RxforAmericanHealth, AmericanRxBillofRights and TodaysSeniorsNetwork, has sent an open letter to President Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Rep. Tom Price of Georgia seeking clarification on whether the designee supports the President’s campaign pledge of a role for personal importation of brand-name prescription medicines from Tier One countries as a way to lower prescription drug costs.

Hines also sent the letter to the members of the U.S. Senate.(To read the letter, click here).

“We applaud President Trump’s continued expressions of support for personal importation as evidenced by his campaign pledge, and more recently, his sharp criticism of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma that deny access to literally millions of Americans to vital medicines because the high prices render the medicines unaffordable and unavailable,” says Publisher Daniel Hines.

But, Hines continues, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Rep. Price, he and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) engaged in an exchange based upon Rep. Price’s continued references to his goal being ‘accessibility’ to health care for all Americans.

“Senator Sanders correctly pointed out that accessibility is not the same as the ability to purchase or afford adequate medical care,” Hines notes.

The problem, Hines explains, is that “a medicine that is unaffordable is inherently unavailable, and a medicine that is unavailable and not able to be afforded is a medicine that is denied.”

“However, a recent article from Roll Call offers Rep. Price an opportunity to shed light on his definition of accessibility to health care, “Hines says, noting that he sought an exemption from the Food and Drug Administration seizure of medicines of a constituent.

The exemption was sought because the constituent said the price of the medicine in the U.S. was unaffordable and he turned to Canada to personally import the medicine at a much lower cost.

Roll Call noted that “…In February 2006, Rep. Price’s office appealed to the FDA on behalf of a constituent in need of a medicine for a surgery. While both drugs were available for sale in the United States, the patient was trying to import them from Canada, where they were presumably cheaper. The drugs were being held in customs, and the FDA explained to Price that it wasn’t legal to import the drugs manufactured outside of the country, even though there are some exceptions to this policy…”

Ironically, one of the exceptions under which personal importation is allowable is if the medicine is unavailable, Hines explains.

“This directly addresses the question of whether or not a medicine is unavailable if it is unaffordable, or is it ‘accessible’ if available in the U.S., but the patient can’t afford it.”

Hines notes: “When Rep. Price wrote the letter, the FDA and U.S. Customs were engaged in collusion for such seizures which were accompanied by a letter threatening the patient who personally imported their medicines that by signing the letter they were admitting they were guilty of violating the law, that they were pledging that they would not attempt to import medicines in the future, and, if they did, their signature on the Customs letter would constitute an admission of guilt.”

“I and other advocates working on behalf of the rights of Americans to have true access to safe, affordable prescription medicines worked with contacts in the Senate to have the seizures halted, and to also specifically deny funding to Customs for such seizures,” Hines says.

That is why we are asking Rep. Price to now explain if his definition of ‘access ’includes support of the rights of Americans to engage in personal importation as he sought—and failed in-- on behalf of his constituent.

Another question arises from a recent letter from many Democrat members of the U.S. House of Representative to President Barrack Obama, in which they sought to “… encourage your administration to explore implementing drug importation rules that are already part of U.S. law. Under authority from the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify the importation of prescription drugs from other countries under specific qualifications. This regulatory action would pose no risk to public health and safety and could result in a significant reduction in the cost of prescription drugs to American families.”

This leads to specific questions that should be addressed by the President and Rep. Price:

1. Will Rep. Price, if confirmed as HHS Secretary, continue his previously stated support of personal importation as exampled by his letter on behalf of a constituent turning to personal importation;
2. Does Rep. Price believe that a prescription medicine is in and of itself unavailable because it is unaffordable, thereby meeting the FDA’s stated and printed decision that a medicine or device that is unavailable is thereby exempt from restrictions of personal importation?
3. Will Rep. Price, if confirmed, follow the directive and intent of Congress as stated in the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003?

“The designee’s response to these questions is of prime importance,” Hines concludes. “The fact is that personal importation of safe, affordable medicines from Tier One countries is the most immediate relief from the predatory drug pricing practices of Pharma.”

Daniel Hines
TodaysSeniorsNetwork
6363992849
email us here

Does Rep. Price support President Trump's campaign pledge for Personal Importation? An open letter to the President, Rep. Price and the U.S. Senate


The following letter was sent to members of the United States Senate and to the President at the White House and Rep. Tom Price, the designee for Secretary of Health and Human Services:

President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
 Washington, DC 20500
January 30, 2017
An Open Letter to President Trump and Health and Human Services Designee Rep. Price:
I am writing in my capacity as publisher of the TodaysSeniorsNetwork series of web blogs to respectfully request clarification on the stance of Rep. Price as regards his support—or lack thereof—of personal importation of safe, affordable brand-name prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries whose standards of safety of efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.

We applaud President Trump’s continued expressions of support for personal importation as evidenced by his campaign pledge, and more recently, his sharp criticism of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma that deny access to literally millions of Americans to vital medicines because the high prices render the medicines  unaffordable and unavailable.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Rep. Price, he and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) engaged in an exchange based upon Rep. Price’s continued references to his goal being ‘accessibility’ to health care for all Americans. Senator Sanders pointed out that accessibility is not the same as the ability to purchase or afford adequate medical care, or a ‘million dollar’ home.

No other example so vividly illustrates this point as the cost of prescription medicines. A medicine that is unaffordable is inherently unavailable, and a medicine that is unavailable and not able to be afforded is a medicine that is denied.

However, a recent article from Roll Call offers Rep. Price an opportunity to shed light on his definition of accessibility to health care, based upon a situation involving his role in seeking an FDA exemption for a specific case of personally imported denied to a constituent because the medicine in question was also available in the U.S.

Roll Call noted that “…In February 2006, Rep. Price’s office appealed to the FDA on behalf of a constituent in need of a medicine for a surgery. While both drugs were available for sale in the United States, the patient was trying to import them from Canada, where they were presumably cheaper. The drugs were being held in customs, and the FDA explained to Price that it wasn’t legal to import the drugs manufactured outside of the country, even though there are some exceptions to this policy…”

Ironically, one of the exceptions under which personal importation is allowable is if the medicine is unavailable. As explained above, this raises the question of whether or not a medicine is unavailable if it is unaffordable, or is it merely ‘accessible.’

When Rep. Price wrote the letter, the FDA and U.S. Customs were engaged in collusion for such seizures which were accompanied by a letter threatening the patient who personally imported their medicines that by signing the letter they were admitting they were guilty of violating the law, that they were pledging that they would not attempt to import medicines in the future, and, if they did, their signature on the Customs letter would constitute an admission of guilt.

For 16 years, as publisher of http:/RxforAmericanHealth.blogspot.com, http:AmericanRxBillofRights.blogspot.com. and www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com,  I and other advocates have worked on behalf of the rights of Americans to have access to safe, affordable prescription medicines. In this instance, we successfully worked with contacts in the Senate to have the seizures halted, and to also specifically deny funding to Customs for such seizures.

That is why we are asking Rep. Price to now explain if his definition of ‘access ’includes support of the rights of Americans to engage in personal importation as he sought—and failed in-- on behalf of his constituent.   

In a recent letter from many Democrat members of the U.S. House of Representative to President Barrack Obama, they sought to “…  encourage your administration to explore implementing drug importation rules that are already part of U.S. law. Under authority from the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify the importation of prescription drugs from other countries under specific qualifications. This regulatory action would pose no risk to public health and safety and could result in a significant reduction in the cost of prescription drugs to American families.”

This leads to three specific questions that should be addressed by the President and Rep. Price:

1. Will he, if confirmed as HHS Secretary, continue his previously stated support of personal importation;
2. Does Rep. Price believe that a prescription medicine is in and of itself unavailable because it is unaffordable, thereby meeting the FDA’s stated and printed decision that a medicine or device that is unavailable is thereby exempt from restrictions of personal importation?
Will Rep. Price, if confirmed, follow the directive and intent of Congress as stated in the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003?


These questions are respectfully submitted.  We look forward to your response, and your stance on personal importation of safe, affordable medicines from Tier One countries—the most immediate relief from the predatory drug pricing practices of Pharma.

Daniel Hines

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Grassley, Casey, Brown Re-introduce Popular Bipartisan Bill to Help Pharmacists Provide Medical Services to Older Americans in Under-served Areas


Grassley, Casey, Brown introduce pharmacy access legislation
WASHINGTON, January 14, 2017– Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and fellow senators today re-introduced their popular bipartisan legislation to encourage pharmacists to serve older Americans in communities lacking easy access to doctors or where pharmacists are more convenient to visit for certain services than doctors.

“A lot of people in rural Iowa have easier access to a pharmacist than a doctor,” Grassley said.  “Where that pharmacist is licensed to provide a service, Medicare ought to pay the pharmacist for it.  That’s what this bill does. 

“It’s good for pharmacists because they get paid for providing services to rural seniors.  It’s good for rural seniors because they keep access to their local pharmacist and don’t have to go to the  doctor for straightforward medication management.”

“Across the country and in Pennsylvania pharmacists play a critical role in helping seniors receive access to routine healthcare services like wellness checks,” Casey said.

“This legislation will aid those in rural communities who may not live in close proximity to the doctor but do have regular contact with their pharmacist. I’m hopeful that Congress will move forward on this commonsense legislation in the coming year.”  

“Seniors in rural Ohio shouldn’t have to travel long distances to see their doctor for a simple health screening when the pharmacist down the street can offer the same services,” said Brown.

“We can better serve our seniors and taxpayers by cutting through the red tape and giving seniors more choice on where they go for care”
The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, S.109, has 27 original cosponsors.  It encourages pharmacists to offer health care services such as health and wellness screenings, immunizations and diabetes management by authorizing Medicare payments for those services where pharmacists are already licensed under state law to provide them.  Most states already allow pharmacists to provide these services but there currently is no way for pharmacists to receive Medicare reimbursement for providing them.

The bill is supported by organizations including the Iowa Pharmacy Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, the American Pharmacists Association and Kmart.  Hundreds of people, including Iowa pharmacy students, have contacted Grassley’s office in support of the measure,.

A companion bill is planned in the House of Representatives.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

High prices force millions to buy medicine outside U.S.

High Drug Costs force Americans to purchase outside US by Rachel Bluth, Kaiser Health News12:08 a.m. EST December 22, 2016

As drug prices have spiraled upward in the past decade, tens of millions of generally law-abiding Americans have committed an illegal act in response: They have bought prescriptions outside the U.S. and imported them.

One was Debra Miller of Collinston, Louisiana, who traveled to Mexico four times a year for 10 years to get diabetes and blood pressure medicine.

She quit in 2011 after the border patrol caught her returning to the United States with a three-month supply that had cost her $40. The former truck driver drew a stern warning not to do it again, but got to keep her pills.

“I didn’t know what I did wrong,” said Miller, 51, who now pays $120 a month at Walmart for her five medications while she waits to join Medicaid.

It’s no secret that some Americans regularly buy prescription drugs on the internet or while traveling abroad. But the popularity of the approach is underscored by the results of a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in November. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Eight percent of respondents said they or someone in their household had imported a drug at some point, a figure that would translate to about 19 million adults in the U.S. based on current Census population estimates.

The proportion found in the poll may be low, said Andrew Zullo, a clinical pharmacist and a doctoral student at the Brown University School of Public Health who has researched the subject.

“People are uncomfortable talking about the cost of their own health care, and they don’t want to admit they are struggling to pay for their own meds,” he said. Some may also be reluctant to reveal they’ve broken the law.

Still, 8 percent is far higher than in surveys conducted by government interviewers, which suggested the number was about 2 percent in 2011 — though the government survey focused only on purchases in the previous 12 months. The Kaiser poll queried a nationally representative sample of 1,202 adults.

The internet has made it easier for Americans to buy prescription drugs abroad, frequently from disreputable sources, according to Jaime Ruiz, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Food and Drug Administration has cautioned that many online pharmacies aren’t what they seem. An international crackdown in 2014 found that many packages of medicines purportedly from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom contained drugs from other countries, including India, China and Laos.

Zullo acknowledged that imported medications could be inferior or expired. Some could be counterfeits. But many medicines purchased from another country are the same as the ones patients buy in the United States.

When purchased outside the country, many prescription medicines cost half or less than they do in the states.

According to the FDA’s website, it is generally illegal for Americans to import drugs into the states for personal use. The law isn’t rigorously enforced, in part because it is difficult to monitor the entry of medicine in suitcases and small packages. But in 2015 the FDA implemented a rule that would give government border inspectors expanded authority to destroy drugs imported for personal use at their point of entry.

In the poll, people who had imported medicines ranged from college students in their 20s to retirees in their 80s. They bought medications to treat chronic conditions — such as high blood pressure and thyroid problems — as well as acute problems such as sinus infections and acne.

Amanda Mazumder, a 27-year-old graphic designer in St. Paul, Minnesota, was stressed out by the murky legality of the situation when she tried buying birth control pills while in college five years ago.

“That was the most difficult part, trying to be an honest citizen but also getting an affordable prescription,” she said. She couldn’t afford to pay $150 a month for her birth control, but found an online Canadian pharmacy that sold her a three-month supply for $60.

Bobby Grant of Los Angeles has relied on foreign pharmacies for seven years to get medicine for his partner’s severe asthma. Grant, 38, travels internationally for his job producing live shows. Each time he’s in Mexico or France, he buys 10-packs of inhalers and 20-packs of nebulizer solution for a fraction of what they would cost in the United States.

His partner’s asthma would require inhalers costing $300 a month if she purchased them here. Grant estimates he saves at least $2,500 a year by buying the drugs overseas.

“I love her to death,” he said. “I’ll do whatever I can to take her stress away.”

Kaiser Health Network’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Editor’s note

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service committed to in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics.