Arlington, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has written to all 100 U.S. Senators to articulate the perils of allowing importation of prescription drugs. NACDS made its case in anticipation of proposed amendments to the budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) that the Senate is considering this week.

Maintains commitment to safer methods of expanding access to prescription medications in safe, affordable and effective ways

NACDS described the ways in which importation undermines the prescription drug safety net, and noted additional risks that include increased chances of counterfeit, the lack of recall communications, and the lack of a consumer’s ability to talk with a pharmacist about the medications.

In the letters, NACDS wrote:

“NACDS shares the goal of reducing the cost of prescription drugs, including through the promotion of generic drugs as safe, cost-effective alternatives for many patients. In fact, increasing the use of generic drugs is one of the most effective ways to minimize prescription drug costs.  

“However, we do not believe that consumer safety can be ensured in any system that allows for the personal or commercial importation of prescription medications. 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, however, when prescription drugs are imported from foreign suppliers. 

“Drugs coming into the United States from foreign websites and mail order operations are not subject to U.S. regulation, nor are they subject to regulation in the country from which they originate. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that it: ‘cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of products that are not FDA-approved and come from unknown sources and foreign locations, or that may not have been manufactured under proper conditions. These unknowns put patients’ health at risk if they cannot be sure of the products identity, purity, and source. For these reasons, FDA recommends only obtaining medicines from legal sources in the U.S.’

“Additionally, the potential for counterfeit drugs being mailed into the U.S. from foreign Internet sites offering prescription drugs is very high. Further, if a foreign dispensed drug is subject to a recall or is withdrawn from the market, there is no way to inform patients and protect them from harm.

“In addition to questions concerning the safety and effectiveness of the drugs, individuals who obtain prescription medications through personal importation schemes do not have a licensed pharmacist available to consult with them about using the medications safely and effectively. Every day, retail pharmacists assist customers with obtaining the most cost effective, therapeutically-appropriate drug therapies.

“As the Senate moves ahead to debate on S. Con. Res. 3, we look forward to working with you to advance alternative policies that expand access to prescription medications in safe, affordable, and effective ways.”