Arlington, Va. – An amendment calling for personal importation of prescription drugs from Canada was withdrawn amidst debate in the U.S. Senate on budget reconciliation legislation yesterday. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) previously expressed opposition to the measure in a letter to all U.S. Senators, emphasizing that consumer safety cannot be ensured in a system that allows for the personal importation of prescription drugs.
Given that patient safety cannot be ensured under a personal prescription drug importation 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.
The personal importation amendment was originally filed by U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) during debate on H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015. H.R. 3762 then passed the Senate by a vote of 52-47 – without the importation amendment.
“Given that patient safety cannot be ensured under a personal prescription drug importation 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,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE following Senate action on the amendment.
In the letter NACDS sent to all U.S. Senators earlier this week, the association cited the differences in active ingredients in drugs from other countries, as well as different shapes, sizes and colors, which can cause confusion for patients and healthcare professionals.
“The United States 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 eliminated when prescription drugs are imported from foreign suppliers and greatly contributes to the potential for counterfeit drugs being imported into the U.S.,” NACDS wrote in its letter.
In addition, NACDS stressed that individuals who obtain prescription medications through personal importation do not have the benefit of a licensed pharmacist to consult with them before using the medications safely and effectively.
“We applaud the efforts of Congress to expand access to prescription medications and are committed to working with you to advance policies that do so in a safe, affordable and effective way,” the letter stated.