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Open Letter to President Trump: How personal importation of brand-name medicines can help lower health costs

Implementation of personal importation model by President could help American patients enjoy benefits of access to regimen of vital maintenance medicines

ST. LOUIS, MO 63021, USA, March 24, 2017 / -- The publisher of the TodaysSeniorsNetwork series of web blogs (RxforAmericanHealth and AmericanRxBillofRights) has called for President Donald Trump to take implement ‘true’ personalimportation of prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries as a first step towards lowering health care costs.

Daniel Hines says that as the President works to attain passage of the GOP health care plan,he can achieve many of his goals to lower health care costs for American patients via personal importation of brand-name medicines that offer access to safe, affordable medicines leading to improvements in the health and well-being by creating benefits that will deter the onset of other debilitating,costly diseases.

However,Hines says that the President should reject S.469, the latest revision of a bill originally put forth in 2003 when personal importation of prescription medicines,especially from Canada,was gaining recognition as the only available relief for American patients, especially the elderly, from what was then and remain today the highest priced medicines in the world.

Hines notes that the bill was unsuccessful in its original version, because it also included a provision for ‘certification’ by the Secretary of Health and Human Services of the ‘safety and validity of each imported prescription.

He says that while the revised plan lacks the certification provision, nonetheless, “a great deal of attention has been directed towards the proposal from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D MD 24) and others to pass what was a failed model when it was first introduced in 2003. “

“The irony of Senator Booker’s sponsorship of the bill should be a red flag,” Hines says. “He represents New Jersey, which is nicknamed the United State of Pharma due to the presence of 46 Pharma companies, leading to Pharma’s long-standing influence upon New Jersey politics.”

He points out that Senator Booker, who before the 2016 elections had received $239,000 from Pharma-related contributions, voted against an amendment offered by Senator Sanders during the recent budget reconciliation process to allow personal importation. He was one of 13 Democrats to do so, a vote which drew a great deal of criticism from media, the public and Democrat Party members.

“Senator Booker said he would support personal importation IF the proper safety standards were included,” Hines says. “Instead, he and others have come together in support of the fatally flawed 2003 legislation.” (To review the built-in failings of the bill S. 469 click here, published in RxforAmericanHealth.)

“Simply put, this is not legislation based upon the right and ability of American citizens to make independent, informed healthcare decisions, “Hines explains. “It is not a personal importation bill. Rather, it is an awkwardly written set of procedures that could lead to higher prices as it calls for wholesaling of medicines from Canada to wholesalers in the U.S., with no guarantee that they would pass along savings to American patients.

“It would also impose U.S. oversight and approval of the safety, efficacy and validity of medicines approved by the Canadian system, which is widely recognized as being on par with the U.S. and other Tier One Countries.”

“Recently, the FDA has launch a series of reciprocal agreements with several Tier One Countries for oversight of manufacture of prescription drug ingredients, so the structure for guaranteeing the safety of medicines from those countries is already in place.’

Hines urges that President Trump ask straight questions that demand straight answers from the sponsors for S. 469.They include:

1. Does anyone believe that Canadian provincial licensing authorities will cede any of that authority to allow the FDA to come into Canada to provide what is basically an oversight of their authority/ability of licensing procedures?
2. How will personal importation into the U.S.,which has been identified with Canada for more than 17 years be defensible within Canada if wholesaling is allowed, reviving an old argument arising from Canadian objections to the Country becoming 'America's Drugstore'?
3. In a related issue, there is a continuing push for Pharmacare in Canada. Will S.469 become the cause of what could be viewed in Canada as a threat to its ability to address its own challenges and problems of pharma costs and availability?
4. S.469 is not personal importation, but is instead a push for a different, unworkable, doomed-to-failure importation strategy.
5. The President has said he wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Perhaps he should consider the recommendation from more than 14 years ago, that personal importation should be a ‘trade issue,’ coming from no less an authority than then-Pfizer CEO Kimball.
5. A fatal flaw of S.469 is that it is a mistaken claim that without U.S. FDA approval, the regulatory agencies in Tier One countries are not capable of determining the safety and efficacy of medicines, despite their record that proves that the medicines from Tier One Countries are safe, and their regulatory agencies can guarantee the safety, efficacy and authenticity of medicines on a par with U.S. authorities.
6. Some proponents of S. 469 say or hope it is a shift of the determination of safety, efficacy and authenticity of medicines and sources from countries of origin to the dispensing entity, such as pharmacies who dispense the medicines.
7. Ask the supporters of S. 469 if they will guarantee that any savings they claim from wholesale operations will be shared with American patients.
8. Be alert as to what policy or combination of policies you might choose to end the predatory pricing of Pharma.

“By allowing true personal importation for American patients, the President will plant the seeds for lowering other health care costs, thanks to the improved health of American patients who will thereby avoid worsening medical conditions that can be avoided because of the benefits made possible by access to a regimen of authentic, safe and affordable prescribed medicines,” Hines concludes.

Daniel Hines
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