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Senate nixes provision for 'personal importation' of Rx
October 20th, 2011
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Senate has voted down a measure that would have enabled personal importation of prescription drugs into the United States.
In a 55-45 vote on Thursday, the Senate rejected an amendment to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which would have prohibited the FDA from preventing an individual not in the business of importing a prescription drug from importing prescription medications from Canada.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores hailed the vote as a victory for patient safety and health.
"Given that consumer safety cannot be ensured under a prescription drug reimportation system, and that such a system would reduce patients' access to professional services of their local licensed pharmacists, the Senate made the right decision today," Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of NACDS, said in a statement Thursday.
"NACDS appreciates the genuine interest in reducing health care expenses that is a motivating factor behind this amendment, and NACDS remains committed to working with all branches and all levels of government, as well as private payers, to improve patient health and reduce costs," Anderson explained. "While the safety risks associated with personal reimportation are not acceptable, community pharmacy offers many viable solutions that make prescriptions more affordable and that help to reduce overall health care costs. These include generic drug utilization, medication therapy management that fosters proper use of medications, screenings, health education, vaccinations and more."
On Wednesday, NACDS had sent a letter to the amendment's sponsor, Sen. David Vitter (R., La.), to express its concerns about the provision's potential impact on patient safety. The association also noted in the message that the measure could help fuel the growth of illegal Internet drug sellers.
"Your amendment would allow for reimported drugs to be sold over such websites, yet illegitimate websites are not pharmacies and are not licensed in the United States," Anderson said in the letter. "They often ship unapproved, counterfeit, mislabeled or adulterated products presenting serious health and safety concerns. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you on developing policy solutions that target these illegitimate drug sellers at chokepoints and construct appropriate barriers to the illicit activities."