A prescription for better health: Ease restrictions on imported meds
It is amazing that the prices of prescription medications magically decrease once the drugs leave the United States.
While U.S. pharmaceutical companies manufacture most popular medications, patients can obtain those same drugs from Canadian or other foreign pharmacies at a fraction of their cost here.
Unfortunately, U.S. law severely restricts the importation of many prescription drugs — even those made in the United States — from Canada and elsewhere. The limitation has the effect of preventing competition from less expensive medications and thus protecting the windfall profits of the drug companies.
The Republican congressional leadership opposed easing restrictions on imports. They, along with the Food and Drug Administration, said there is no assurance of the safety or efficacy of imported drugs — even though the FDA deemed those drugs safe when they left the United States.
Certainly there are horror stories of Americans who purchased ineffective Canadian drugs via online pharmacies. But ordering medications from unregulated mass e-mailers is probably not the smartest move in the first place.
The incoming congressional leadership has expressed a desire to improve the affordability of U.S. health care in general. Easing restrictions on reimported pharmaceuticals would be a good place to start. It would force the major drug manufacturers to reduce the inflated costs of their products here.
A little competition does wonders in a free-market economy.
Congress needs to find a way to allow reimportation of prescription drugs while assuring the safety of those medications.
It is the first step toward curing our sick health care system.