Big Pharma steps up disinformation campaign against drug reimportation

You might think Big Pharma would give up its longstanding fight against Canadian pharmacy drug reimportation — now that both John McCain and Barack Obama vocally support it (not to mention 80 percent of the American public).

You’d be wrong.

As it turns out, Big Pharma believes it has a trump card in its bid to maintain its inflated drug profits by keeping out competition from abroad. That trump card: the incompetence of the FDA.

The argument is outlined in this op-ed piece by Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, which is funded by Big Pharma among other sources. Says Pitts:

Several lawmakers have proposed allowing Americans to buy drugs from abroad. Since many brand-name pharmaceuticals are available at a lower price in foreign countries, many believe that legalizing drug importation would help lower U.S. healthcare costs.

All of the plans to lift the ban, including ones by Barack Obama and John McCain, stipulate that only “safe” drugs will be permitted into the country.

It would be up to the FDA to make sure all imported drugs are safe and effective.

As the salmonella case illustrates all too clearly, such a promise would be almost impossible to keep.

Isn’t that beautiful? Big Pharma, which has advocated and overseen the gutting of the FDA’s regulatory capabilities over the past two decades, now says, “Sorry, but the FDA just doesn’t have the regulatory capabilities to monitor drug imports.”

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That’s chutzpah, baby.

Of course, it’s not a lot different from what faced when we appeared on the Mike and Juliet show last month. One of the other folks on stage was representing the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The NABP was touting its own anti-import research — also funded by Big Pharma.

Of course, the irony of saying that imports aren’t safe — and that the FDA is incompetent to regulate them — is that many good ol’ American drugs sold at good ol’ American pharmacies are manufactured in China. We live in a largely deregulated global economy today — and this is the case whether you order your medications from U.S. or Canadian pharmacies. In most if not all cases, the drugs you receive from a properly licensed Canadian pharmacy are identical to those you would receive from a U.S. pharmacy.

So, yes, the FDA needs an overhaul as a regulatory body — that’s been made evident time and again in recent years. That means we need to do two things:

  1. Extract the corrupting tentacles of Big Pharma from the FDA;
  2. Dramatically increase funding to the FDA to ensure the organization has the resources to keep the public safe.

Sadly, Big Pharma — their protestations that they’re concerned for your safety to the contrary — wants NEITHER of these things to happen.

If it were up to them, the FDA would go away all together. Then you’d have to trust Big Pharma to “keep you safe” — and keep paying them protection money for the privilege.

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs. - Search. Compare. Save.

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