Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a variety of stakeholders raise concerns over drug
importation legislation. Now, the leaders once responsible for the safety of our U.S. drug supply
chain—FDA commissioners—are warning Congress of its life-threatening risks.
This week in Washington, D.C., I attended a public briefing on the real-world implications of drug importation, hosted by the Partnership for Safe Medicines. At the event, Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach and former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, spoke candidly about opening U.S. borders to unregulated drugs. Their message rang clear: Drug importation jeopardizes American safety. It is impossible for regulators, law enforcement, and even physicians to guarantee the safety and efficacy of imported drugs to patients.
In the words of Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach:
Von Eschenbach on drug importation: As a doctor, I took an oath to do no harm. It's important for Congress to do the same. #fakedrugs— Eli Lilly & Company (@LillyPad) April 4, 2017
Adding to the chorus against drug importation, a recent Washington Post article featured an open letter to Congress written by four former FDA commissioners, including former Commissioner Eschenbach. Their letter cautions that drug importation:
“…could lead to a host of unintended consequences and undesirable effects, including serious harm stemming from the use of adulterated, substandard, or counterfeit drugs.It could also undermine American confidence in what has proven to be a highly successful system for assuring drug safety.”
The commissioners also cite how importation will not achieve significant cost
savings, nor improve patient access to life-saving medicines.
As Congress seeks to improve America’s health care system, we must remember that drug importation is not the answer. Identifying strategies to improve access to safe medicines, without jeopardizing the well-being of the American public, is a solution we can all support.