Making the case for personal importation of safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries. Rx for American Health is published by Daniel Hines, an international award-winning communicator with five decades of experience, and the publisher of www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com and www.BoomersNewsOnline.com. He also works with progressive senior advocacy groups across the nation to promote the health and well-being of America’s aging population.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
An Open Letter to President Trump: How personal importation of brand-name medicines can help lower health costs
have once again called for measures to lower the costs of prescription
medicines for millions of Americans who continue to be denied the health
benefits of access to a regime of vital medicines for one reason—they are
that as many as 46 million Americans have been forced to make a decision to
‘skip ‘ their medicines because of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma.
All of this
If you act in
support of a workable legislative bill to allow the personal importation of
brand-name prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier
One Countries—including but not limited to Canada—whose standards of safety and
efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S., there could be almost immediate
relief from what are the highest drug prices in the industrial world.
recently, a great deal of attention has been directed towards a proposal from
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D MD 24)and others to pass what was a failed model when it was
first introduced in 2003, and then brought forth again a few years later.
The irony of
Senator Booker’s sponsorship of the bill should be a red flag. He represents New Jersey, which is nicknamed
the United State of Pharma due to the presence of 46 Pharma companies, leading
to Pharma’s long-standing influence upon New Jersey politics.
Booker, who before the 2016 elections had received $239,000 from Pharma-related
contibutions voted against an amendment to allow personal importation offered
by Senator Sanders during the recent budget reconciliation process, one of 13
Democrats to do so, a vote which drew a
great deal of criticism from media, the public and Democrat Party members.
He said he
would support personal importation IF the proper safety standards were
included. Instead, he and others have
come together in support of the fatally
flawed 2003 legislation. (To review the
built-in failings of the bill S. 469 click here, published in RxforAmericanHealth.)
this is not legislation based upon the right and ability of American citizens
to make independent, informed healthcare decisions. It is
not a personal importation bill. Rather,
it is an awkwardly written set of procedures that could actually lead to
higher prices as it calls for wholesaling of medicines from Canada to
wholesalers in the U.S., with no guarantee that they would pass along savings
to American patients.
It would also
impose U.S. oversight and approval of
the safety, efficacy and validity of medicines approved by the Canadian system,
which is widely recognized as being on par with the U.S. and other Tier One
is not that difficult. There are bills
offered by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Rep. Keith
Ellision (D MN 7) that would allow American patients to personally import
medicines from Canada (and/or) other countries whose standards of safety and
efficacy are recognized as being equal to those of the U.S.
FDA has announced the launch of a series of reciprocal agreements with a number
of Tier One Countries so the structure for guaranteeing the safety of medicines
from those countries is already in place.
President when supporters of S. 469 come to you, we recommend you ask some
straight questions that demand straight answers:
1. Does anyone
truly believe that Canadian provincial licensing authorities will cede any of
that authority to allow the FDA to come into Canada to provide what is
basically an oversight of the authority/ability of licensing procedures? As
Senator Sanders has often said, “Show me the Dead Canadians” a reference to
those who have died from non-existent failures of the Canadian system.
2. How will
personal importation into the U.S., which has been identified with Canada for
more than 17 years be defensible within Canada if wholesaling is allowed,
reviving an old argument about Canadian objections to the Country becoming
3. In a
related issue, there is a continuing push for Pharmacare in Canada. Will S.
469 become the cause of what could be viewed in Canada as a threat to its
ability to address its own challenges and problems of pharma costs and
4. S. 469 is
not personal importation, but is instead a push for a different, unworkable,
doomed-to-failure importation strategy.
5. You have suggested that you want to
renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Perhaps you should consider the recommendation from more than 14 yearsa go
that personal importation should be a ‘trade issue,’ a recommendation from no less an authority
than then-Pfizer CEO Kimball.
5. A fatal flaw of S. 469 is that it is a
mistaken claim that without FDA approval (US Approval), the regulatory
agencies in Tier One countries are not capable of determining the safety and efficacy
of medicines, despite their record that
proves that the medicines from Tier One
Countries are safe, and their regulatory agencies are capable of
guaranteeing the safety, efficacy and authenticity of medicines on a par with
6. Some proponents of S. 469
say or hope it is a shift of the determination of safety, efficacy and
authenticity of medicines and sources from countries of origin to the
dispensing entity, such as pharmacies who dispense the medicines.
7. Perhaps you should ask the supporters of S.
469 if they will guarantee that any savings they claim from wholesale
operations will be shared with American patients.
So, Mr. President,
we urge you: Be alert as to what policy or combination of policies you might
choose to end the predatory pricing of Pharma.
With that, we
respectfully suggest that you consider
the provisions in the AmericanRxBillof Rights. And, as a first ‘baby’ step, that you consider issuing an executive order
for HHS Secretary Price to implement reciprocity (the framework is now in place
for Memorandums of Understanding ) with Tier One countries. By allowing true
personal importation for individuals, you will plant the seeds for lowering
other health care costs thanks to the improved health of American patients who
will thereby avoid worsening medical conditions that can be avoided by access
to the benefits made possible by access to a regimen of authentic, safe and affordable prescribed