The Dangerous Side Effects of Drug Reimportation

David Williams

January 10, 2017

Waste. Public health risks. Fatal complications. These are only some of the consequences that can result from a consumer or patient taking medicines that are imported from other countries.  As the new Congress and administration begin to set the tone and stage for 2017, our nation’s health care system and the importation of medicines will surely be a topic of contention among policymakers.

Over the past several years, importing medicines from countries such as Canada or Western European nations has been brought up by members of Congress as a way to address the nation’s health care issues. However, importing medicines from outside the U.S. would be a dangerous solution that would hurt consumers far more than it would help them. While imported medicines are often advertised as cheap and easy to obtain, many are counterfeit and were originally manufactured in countries millions of miles away from Canada and made with untested, unsafe ingredients. The country would be unwise to allow them in. Nevertheless, counterfeit medications have become a growing problem in the U.S., potentially compromising our country’s drug supply chain, risking jobs and wasting taxpayer dollars.

Counterfeit medicine also undermines Intellectual Property (IP) rights.  Companies that have invested billions of dollars into R&D would lose incentive to invest more money if their IP is not respected.

According to an American Consumer Institute survey, 86 percent of respondents think the sale of counterfeit medicines are dangerous to consumers. Often times, medications made outside of the United States do not undergo the same rigorous testing and are not made up to the same standards as drugs made within and regulated in the United States are. For example, cancer patients have received fake medicines that contain salt and starch, sans any active cancer-fighting ingredients, and other counterfeit medicines have led to more harmful side-effects.

Taxpayers deserve to have a protected drug supply chain that promotes what our health care system is truly all about: keeping consumers safe and healthy, not a proposal that gambles on consumers’ safety and quality of life.