The state of Oregon is considering legislation that would authorize the state to apply for federal approval to import prescription drugs from Canada. While this proposed solution may seem simple and productive to local elected leaders hoping to lower the cost of prescription drugs in their state, oftentimes without a proper understanding of the nature of the pharmaceutical industry, good intentions can result in disastrous outcomes.
Manufacturers support efforts to increase access to affordable medicine, but it cannot be at the expense of the safety and quality of that medicine. Canada simply does not have the same standards or long-established mechanisms in place to protect patients as we do here in the United States. It is a long-held belief by manufacturers that consumer safety should be a paramount public policy concern. Because Canada does not make product safety guarantees to the U.S., importation and re-importation could expose consumers to counterfeit and adulterated medicine.
Additionally, Oregon’s drug importation proposal under consideration would still require federal approval. To date, no secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been willing to make a certification to permit drug importation—and for good reason. Patients count on the reputation of quality drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for marketing in the United States when seeking medicine. Those safeguards cannot be assured with imported medicine—nor can the health and wellness of people seeking treatment through prescription medicine that may be counterfeit or adulterated.
The National Association of Manufacturers has long opposed the importation of prescription drugs, and we will continue advocating for patient safety to remain the driving factor determining prescription drug laws. Lives depend on the protections we have built here as nation—not state by state.