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NACDS blasts Rx importation

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has sent a letter to Senate leaders voicing strong opposition to legislation that would permit personal and commercial importation of prescription drugs.

According to NACDS, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009 (S. 1232) mandates expensive and unproven track-and-trace requirements for the pharmacy industry and effectively lumps legitimate brick-and-mortar pharmacies with illegitimate Internet drug sellers. The legislation will be offered as an amendment during the Senate’s consideration of health care reform legislation.

The letter, signed by NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson, was backed up by more than 1,000 letters fired off by NACDS members and pharmacy advocates opposing personal drug importation on the grounds of compromising patient safety. The letters were issued as part of NACDS’ grass-roots program RxIMPACT.

“NACDS shares the goal of reducing the cost of prescription drugs,” Anderson wrote. “However, we do not believe that consumer safety can be ensured in any system that allows for the personal importation of prescription medications. In addition to numerous concerns about the safety and effectiveness of imported drugs, individuals who obtain prescription medications through a personal importation scheme are less likely to benefit from the professional services and advice of their local licensed pharmacists.”

The letter further stressed that patients relying on personally imported drugs would give up access to licensed pharmacists and risk misusing the medications. Recent research, it said, has shown the enormous costs of drug nonadherence and medication misuse.

In addition, Anderson sounded a warning regarding safety and operational concerns related to commercial importation of drugs and other aspects of the Senate bill intended to support such a program.

“S. 1232 would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services within only a couple of years to mandate the use of unproven track-and-trace technologies that are costly and burdensome for the pharmacy industry and the U.S. health care system,” he wrote. “At a time when efforts to reduce health care costs are under way, it makes little sense to impose a track-and-trace system that will add huge costs to the delivery of prescription medicines.”

Implementing the system, he added, would be complex and technically difficult, wreaking disruptive changes in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

NACDS also voiced opposition to the bill’s web site requirements, which would compel legitimate pharmacies to post information about hundreds of thousands of pharmacists.

The association says such postings would increase the risk of identity theft and compromise privacy while doing little to impede illegal Internet drug sellers.


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