National Consumers League

NCL statement on Oregon drug importation legislation

April 26, 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 three pending bills in Oregon (Senate Bill 409House Bill 2680, and House Bill 2689), which would allow for the importation of prescription drugs from Canadawould make the public vulnerable to counterfeit and/or substandard drugs, thus putting patient health and safety at risk.  

Counterfeit medications made with deadly ingredients have been found in more than 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. An 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 percent 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. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb explained that online pharmacies advertising the sale of Canadian-approved medicine most likely source medication from other countries, which may be “expired, mislabeled, subject to recalls, or potentially counterfeit.” 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 the Oregon legislature to 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.