Published Online: Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries undermines the "coordination of care"that US pharmacists provide to their patients, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) told Congress. In a statement to the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee, NACDS vigorously opposed proposals to legalize prescription drug importation, arguing that such measures would erode the "safety net established to ensure the integrity of the drug supply"in this country.

"Simply put, there is no realistic way that consumers can know whether the imported prescription medications that they are receiving—whether through the mail or in person—are misbranded, adulterated, counterfeit, approved for use in the United States, or labeled appropriately," the association argued.

The problems caused by drug imports are particularly troublesome when they involve cross-border sales of controlled substances, NACDS said. "When a patient purchases a controlled substance from a foreign Internet source?this eliminates patient access to the local community pharmacist, who would otherwise monitor the patient to ensure that the patient does not become addicted to the controlled substance, and ensure that the patient is not abusing the controlled substance for recreational purposes,"the group maintained.

Patients buying foreign controlled substances are "not only at risk for the potential problem with the medication, but also for potential harmful drug interactions that may occur with the other medications that the patient is taking."

An incomplete health care profile is "a recipe for patient harm, particularly for patients who are using multiple medications," NACDS told Congress. "In almost every case, the cost of hospitalization for an iatrogenic event far exceeds any savings that a patient may have realized on the purchase of a drug."

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