Amid the soaring drug prices in the United States, a number of counties, cities and school districts across the country have found a cost-effective way to help their workers buy prescription medicines. With their assistance, employees are now procuring medicines at up to 80 percent cheaper rate from pharmacies in Canada and overseas.
In recent years, millions of people in the U.S. have crossed the border to Canada and Mexico or accessed internet to purchase medicines for personal consumption from foreign pharmacies. According to a 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, around 8 percent participants (19 million adults) reported to have imported a drug at some point, either for personal use or for someone in their family. Counties like Schenectady (New York) and Flagler (Florida), and cities like Kokomo (Indiana) are helping their employees save big on prescription drug costs.
It is noteworthy here that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits import of prescription drugs into the country for personal use. Besides, the FDA does not approve drugs from other countries that are available for use and sale in the U.S. And to deal with the “illegal” practice, the federal agency conducts raids on stores helping people order overseas. In addition, the authorities visited some homes of suspected customers to collect evidence of illegal purchases.
However, the FDA is still not going hard on this trade. It has not yet attempted to terminate the employee benefit programs of the counties and cities, neither has it prosecuted people purchasing medicines from overseas pharmacies for personal use. If detected, though, authorities seize such packages at the border as contraband and the contents are destroyed or returned.
“The FDA does not comment on its compliance or enforcement strategy regarding specific FDA-regulated products. When non-compliance with FDA regulations is found, the agency may take, and has taken, a variety of advisory, administrative and judicial actions depending on the violations identified,” an agency spokesperson said.
Though the FDA may not have bothered the public much, it has definitely tightened noose on middlemen involved in facilitating the practice of drug import. In October 2017, the agency raided nine storefronts in Central Florida. The stores had allegedly helped senior population order drugs from Canada and other foreign pharmacies. The pharmaceutical industry has lauded the FDA for its action to crack down on drug importation schemes.
Legislation related to drug import
The Congress has passed legislation allowing import of prescription drugs multiple times in the past 20 years. However, both Republican and Democratic administrations refrained from implementing it. The FDA has been calling it a dangerous practice to reimport medicines from foreign stores due to potential risk of procuring counterfeit, mislabeled or otherwise unsafe medications.
However, the rising drug prices have reignited the idea of importing prescription drugs. An increased number of officials from various cities and counties are advocating the implementation of importation laws. This can, they emphasize, help their employees buy expensive drugs at affordable rates. Meanwhile, companies selling drugs from Canada and other foreign countries have dismissed FDA’s safety concerns as “unjustified.”
Prescription drug abuse
The practice of importing medicines may help people buy them at affordable rates, but it can also fuel prescription drug abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died from overdose involving prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl. Provisions should be made to help more people battling prescription drug abuse access comprehensive treatment facilities. Addiction to prescription drugs can be treated with timely medical interventions. Sovereign Health, one of the leading rapid detox centers in California, offers evidence-based detox program to help people recover from drug addiction. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-682-0103 or chat online for more information on our detox facilities in California.