The issue of drug reimportation came up in conversations last week at the Health Care at Risk conference in Orlando, just about the same time that the presidential campaigns of Sens. Obama and McCain signaled their willingness to take a closer look at their policy positions. From Reuters:
[Recent] scares involving chemical-laced batches of baby formula and the blood thinner heparin — both made in China — have raised new concerns that safely bringing in additional medical products from overseas could be tougher than expected.
“Both candidates were in favor of reimportation and sort of subsequent to the heparin incident (there’s) a lot less enthusiasm,” said Dora Hughes, a health policy adviser to Democratic candidate Obama.
“We have a better understanding of the challenges that go along to support the importation,” she said, speaking before the Generic Pharmaceutical Association’s (GPhA) annual conference in Washington.
Neither adviser said their candidate had abandoned reimportation, but had realized it would be more difficult.
“We now realize the challenges for doing that are greater than before,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a senior policy adviser to Republican candidate McCain, told reporters at the conference.
It’s good news that the McCain and Obama campaigns are revisiting this important consumer issue. Importing prescription drugs opens the door for dangerous counterfeit or adulterated medications, drugs that are not only ineffective but often toxic to consumers. Costs sure aren’t saved when people get sick from taking bad drugs.
We all want to reduce health care costs, and there are other reform initiatives that will yield significant returns for the American people if enacted, like the implementation of health information technology. Let’s focus our efforts on moving this bipartisan initiative forward.
And for more information on counterfeit drugs, I suggest you visit http://www.safemedicines.org/, a resource-rich website sponsored by the Partnership for Safe Medicines.
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