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Patient safety key as NACDS and APhA oppose prescription drug importation

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) expressed concerns about the risks to patient health and the security of the prescription drug supply chain in opposing legislation that would allow for personal and commercial importation of prescription drugs outside of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) oversight.

While NACDS and APhA strongly support reducing the cost of prescription drugs and ensuring Americans are able to access safe, effective and affordable prescription drugs, the groups urge lawmakers to seek solutions that do not adversely impact patients and the U.S. drug supply chain.

“Patients trust pharmacists’ advice for reducing out-of-pocket drug costs – personally and in public policy. A January 2019 poll conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS found that 79 percent of voters support the recently enacted ‘gag-clause’ prevention law that allows pharmacists to tell consumers about less expensive drug options. And, 86% support using pharmacists’ expertise to identify additional cost-saving opportunities. Serious safety concerns prohibit support for importation as one such opportunity. Instead, we urge direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee reform, generic utilization, and more. We remain committed to working with government leaders in this vitally important area,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson.

“Drug importation would negatively impact coordinated care and likely, patient outcomes because patients’ care would be fragmented amongst different health care practitioners in different countries,” said APhA executive vice president and CEO Thomas Menighan.

The FDA has consistently raised concerns about the risk to patient safety that drug importation would cause, noting that broad drug importation would expose the U.S. drug supply chain to foreign counterfeit drugs. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and four former FDA commissioners have made statements opposing drug importation, noting that drug importation exposes the U.S. supply chain to counterfeit drugs. In a letter to Congress, the four former commissioners stated that they believe such importation “represents a complex and risky approach” and is “likely to harm patients and consumers and compromise the carefully constructed system that guards the safety of our nation’s medical products.”

The U.S. has an extensive safety net of federal and state laws to ensure that prescription drugs are manufactured, stored, shipped, dispensed and used in a safe manner. That safety net is undermined, however, when prescription drugs are imported from foreign suppliers.

NACDS and APhA are committed to safer methods of increasing access to affordable prescription medications, but do not see prescription drug importation as a viable solution to reducing drug costs. The groups look forward to working with Congress to help find policies that will successfully address high drug costs, while also protecting patients’ health outcomes and the safety of the drug supply chain.


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