Log Cabin Opposes Congressional Push to Allow Drug Importation

August 5, 2007 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(Washington, DC) – Log Cabin Republicans encourage President Bush to veto any measure that allows the importation of drugs from foreign countries. "This measure would be a disaster for the American healthcare system," said Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon. "Importation supporters might have good intentions, but this proposal would have bad results."

The U.S. House recently approved a comprehensive spending bill that includes a provision to allow importation of prescription drugs from places such as Canada, Australia, and Europe. "This simplistic solution will jeopardize the safety of medications and it will damage an industry that has helped make our country's healthcare system the best in the world," said Dr. David Reznik, Log Cabin's Healthcare Policy Consultant.

The quality of prescription drugs in the U.S. is indisputably the best in the world. Regulations for medication approval, manufacturing, and prescribing help ensure safety and quality. Only companies approved by the FDA can manufacture and distribute drug products in the United States. These companies must follow strict guidelines for labeling, packaging, and manufacturing. Furthermore, the FDA approves only those drugs that are proven safe and effective. "The safety of imported medication can't be assured. The FDA opposes importation. Let scientists, not politicians have the final say on safety, "said Dr. Reznik.

Imported drugs may be counterfeit versions that are unsafe or completely ineffective. The FDA reports 10% of drugs worldwide are counterfeit, and in some countries more than half the drug supply is made up of adulterated ingredients. Imported drugs also may be contaminated with harmful materials such as bacteria. The imported medication may contain too little active ingredient, too much of it, or none at all. Also, the medication may be expired or it could have been stored at the wrong temperature. The label also might contain misleading or incorrect information. "With recent safety problems from imported products ranging from dog food to toothpaste, now is not the time to risk the safety and well-being of the American public by importing life-saving medications. The stakes are just too high." said Dr. Reznik.

"The FDA has safeguards in place to prevent these things from happening with drugs distributed in the United States," said Sammon. "However, consumers cannot be confident that imported drugs are safe. These safety concerns cannot be ignored."

Aside from safety concerns, drug importation will threaten future development of the most advanced medication. The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development reports that pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $880 million on the development of each new medication. Such an investment must be rewarded in the marketplace with sufficient revenue to cover production and development costs.

The Canadian government has a reference based pricing model that accounts only for manufacturing costs, not the research and development investment. U.S. pharmaceuticals can afford to sell medication in Canada, even with price controls, because these companies have a more natural pricing model in this country. However, if all drugs were sold under the Canadian pricing model, which importation would lead to, then pharmaceuticals would be unable to recoup the money they invested in research and development. Opening the borders to medication from other countries would stifle innovation.

"We understand there are access and affordability problems for millions of Americans. However, the pharmaceutical industry provides billions of dollars to help those without health insurance gain access to medications through patient assistance programs. Even so, these companies must continue working with governments and doctors to provide better access for their life-saving drugs," concluded Reznik.