DRUG CHAINS WARN CONGRESS OF Rx IMPORTATION DANGERS

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The importation ofprescription drugsfrom Canada andother countries underminesthe "coordination of care"that USpharmacists provide to their patients, theNational Association of Chain Drug Stores(NACDS) told Congress. In a statementto the House Energy and CommerceOversight Subcommittee, NACDS vigorouslyopposed proposals to legalize prescriptiondrug importation, arguing thatsuch measures would erode the "safetynet established to ensure the integrity ofthe drug supply"in this country.

"Simply put, there is no realistic waythat consumers can know whether theimported prescription medications thatthey are receiving—whether through themail or in person—are misbranded, adulterated,counterfeit, approved for use inthe United States, or labeled appropriately,"the association argued.

The problems caused by drug importsare particularly troublesome when theyinvolve cross-border sales of controlledsubstances, NACDS said. "When a patientpurchases a controlled substance from aforeign Internet source?this eliminatespatient access to the local communitypharmacist, who would otherwise monitorthe patient to ensure that the patientdoes not become addicted to the controlledsubstance, and ensure that thepatient is not abusing the controlled substancefor recreational purposes,"thegroup maintained.

Patients buying foreign controlled substancesare "not only at risk for thepotential problem with the medication,but also for potential harmful drug interactionsthat may occur with the othermedications that the patient is taking."

An incomplete health care profile is "arecipe for patient harm, particularly forpatients who are using multiple medications,"NACDS told Congress. "In almostevery case, the cost of hospitalization foran iatrogenic event far exceeds any savingsthat a patient may have realized onthe purchase of a drug."