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Maine enacts law enabling prescription drug importation
June 28th, 2013
NEW YORK – Maine has become the first state to legalize the importation of prescription drugs by individuals.
The bill, "An Act To Facilitate the Personal Importation of Prescription Drugs from International Mail Order Prescription Pharmacies," was enacted as an unsigned law on Thursday.
Maine's House had voted 107-37 in favor of the bill (LD 171), as did the Maine Senate in a 30-4 vote (SP 60). It was passed as amendment S-241. The legislation became law in the absence of a veto or signature by Gov. Paul LePage.
Under the law, Maine residents are permitted personally import prescription medication from licensed pharmacies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
"A licensed retail pharmacy that is located in Canada, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Commonwealth of Australia or New Zealand that meets its country's statutory and regulatory requirements may export prescription drugs by mail or carrier to a resident of this state for that resident's personal use," the law states.
PharmacyChecker.com, a consumer website that evaluates the credentials of online pharmacies and provides drug price comparisons, said the new law in Maine will enable its residents to significantly reduce the cost of obtaining prescription drugs.
"Americans have accessed medication internationally for over the past decade, but federal prohibitions on personal drug importation, while not enforced against individuals, have deterred millions," Gabriel Levitt, vice president of White Plains, N.Y.-based PharmacyChecker.com, said in a statement. "With that regulatory weight lifted in Maine and with proper guidance, more Americans will have access to safe and affordable medication."
Several states had adopted state-run drug importation programs roughly a decade ago, but most "fell by the wayside" because they weren't widely marketed by state governments, according to PharmacyChecker.com. For example, Kansas, under then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (who's now secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), had provided a state web page to help residents access verified international pharmacies online, PharmacyChecker.com said.
The new law made it once again legal for Maine citizens and other groups to buy prescription drugs from international pharmacies, negating a ruling by Maine Attorney General William Schneider in August 2012 that prohibited Maine citizens from purchasing medications from foreign pharmacies, according to The Canadian Pharmacy, a Winnipeg, Manitoba-based brick-and-mortar and online pharmacy.
"We're excited to see the members of the Maine State Senate on both sides of the political aisle working hard to preserve citizens' rights. All U.S. citizens deserve access to safe and affordable health care," stated David Zimmer, president of The Canadian Pharmacy, which is certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association and holds a 5-Check rating from PharmacyChecker.com. "Reliable, certified Canadian pharmacies are an excellent way for Maine citizens to safely access their prescription medications and pharmaceutical information."