PHARMACY

Senate drops Canadian drug import amendment

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. – Americans will be unable to personally import prescription drugs from Canada anytime soon. And that's good news according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores – importing Canadian medicines opens the door to possible counterfeit medicines and other medicines not approved for sale by the Food and Drug Administration that would otherwise be prevented from entering what is essentially a closed prescription distribution system in the U.S.
 
The amendment calling for personal importation of prescription drugs from Canada was withdrawn amidst debate in the U.S. Senate on budget reconciliation legislation yesterday, NACDS reported Friday. “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,” stated Steven Anderson, NACDS president and CEO. 
 
The personal importation amendment was originally filed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., 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. 
 
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. 
 
 
 
 
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