By Tracy Cooley
July 12, 2018 at 5:00 am ET
The safety of prescription drugs has gotten increased attention lately due to the opioid crisis, and rightly so. Prescription drug safety must be the highest priority of anyone who provides medications to Americans.
The high cost of prescription drugs sold in the United States often forces people to choose between their medications and gas, food or their mortgage. Many people, often the elderly with chronic health conditions, are either skipping doses, splitting pills or forgoing medications completely, which creates an unsafe health situation.
People who need medications to treat conditions from asthma to high cholesterol or arthritis pain are at the mercy of drugmakers who can charge “whatever the market will bear.”
In an effort to protect its profits from these high-priced drugs, the pharmaceutical industry seized on the opportunity to connect the devastating impact of illegally obtained opioids to safe and affordable medications that are available through licensed, legitimate online pharmacies in Canada.
Licensed online pharmacies in Canada should not sell narcotics, and in particular opioids. Safety is not up for debate. A drug is either safe, or it is not — it is that simple.
Licensed, legitimate online pharmacies prioritize safety, and millions of Americans have turned to Canada for safe, affordable medications. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration and its Canadian counterpart, Health Canada, have equivalent standards when it comes to prescription medications.
The United States and Canada source prescription drugs from many of the same countries, yet anti-importation advocates would have us believe that they are somehow different.
There are “rogue pharmacies” and other bad actors on the internet, which are not actually pharmacies but websites that sell pills on the internet and, in fact, sell opioids in any quantity on demand without a prescription. It is critical to be vigilant in identifying and shutting down these operations to protect Americans. This is not up for debate as it endangers the lives of Americans.
The pharmaceutical industry and its front groups claim that importing drugs from Canada is a safety risk for Americans; however, it is only unsafe if the medications that they are importing are unsafe. The motivation for claiming that these medications are unsafe stems from their incentive to protect their profits since Americans pay more for prescriptions in the United States compared to any other country in the world.
Personal prescription importation from licensed, legitimate Canadian pharmacies provides considerable savings and prevents serious health outcomes, which have provided a lifeline to many Americans.
We do not believe that the elderly and people living on fixed incomes should be responsible for ensuring that pharmaceutical companies reach and exceed their profit goals. The exorbitantly high cost of prescription medications is an ongoing, serious health crisis for millions of Americans. They are desperate for relief and want the government to act.
While we are pleased to see Congress and others putting forth options to address absurdly high drug prices, most proposals will take years to implement, if they move forward at all. On the other hand, Congress can provide relief today by allowing importation of personal-use medications from credentialed, verified Canadian pharmacies.
Allowing personal prescription importation from Canada is a viable option to provide Americans with reasonable access to safe, affordable prescription medications.
Tracy Cooley is executive director of the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation.
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