National Consumers League

NCL statement on drug importation legislation

January 14, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—As the nation’s pioneer consumer organization, the National Consumers League (NCL) strongly supports consumer access to safe, effective, and affordable prescription drugs. 

However, NCL is concerned that new legislation, the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act (S.97/H.R. 447) and the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2019 (S. 61), which would allow medicines to be imported into the United States from foreign countries, would open the U.S. market to a flood of counterfeit and/or substandard drugs, putting patient health and safety at risk.

Counterfeit medications made with deadly ingredients have been found in over 40 states across America, posing a significant public health threat. There is no way to ensure that drugs purporting to come from Canada actually come from Canada. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluation of non-FDA-approved imported drugs revealed that “while nearly half of imported drugs claimed to be Canadian or from Canadian pharmacies, 85% of such drugs were actually from different countries.” Allowing importation will only serve to exacerbate the challenge of preventing counterfeit drugs from reaching American patients.

Every head of Health and Human Services and the FDA for the last 18 years has refused to certify the safety of drug importation. FDA Commissioner Gottlieb recently stated that 86 percent of the packages FDA inspectors seized in 2017 contained counterfeit or sub-standard drugs. NCL fears that authorizing importation would expose consumers to unknown risks and undermine the security of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain.

Rather than considering misguided importation proposals, NCL encourages Congress to strengthen our drug supply chain and pursue other strategies to ensure the affordability and accessibility of safe and effective prescription drugs.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.