Medication Importation Requires More Study to Ensure Patient Safety, Cautions NABP

October 2, 2020

Topics: Federal Regulations, Patient Safety, Prescriptions, Pharmacies

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) renewed its call to more carefully study the safety implications of allowing importation of prescription drugs from Canada after the Trump Administration announced plans to allow this activity. In a letter to its members, the state boards of pharmacy, NABP cautioned that allowing such practices places American patients at risk.

For years, policymakers have sought to lower prescription drug costs for Americans. On September 24, 2020, as part of the “America First Healthcare Plan,” the Trump Administration announced plans that will allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. While NABP appreciates these efforts to increase patient access to affordable medications, assurances that patients receive safe medication are vital.

As the actual benefit and savings of the prescription drug importation plans are unknown, NABP encourages state and federal regulators to study this issue more carefully prior to placing American patients and the prescription drug supply chain at risk.

Counterfeit drugs sales are lucrative, generating over $200 billion a year in profit for global criminal networks. The new importation plans open additional points of vulnerability in the United States prescription drug supply chain, specifically, a patchwork approach that is a step away from the tightly regulated supply chain and safeguards currently in place to ensure the efficacy and safety of prescription medications. The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, NABP’s counterpart in Canada, has expressed concern that exportation of medicines out of Canada will threaten the supply available to its citizens. This, in turn, will increase the opportunity for counterfeit medications to enter its supply chain, endangering both US and Canadian patients.

NABP is also concerned that encouraging prescription drug importation will lead to the proliferation of rogue online pharmacy websites that will undoubtedly purport to be authorized to import medications from foreign countries. Rogue pharmacy networks are opportunistic and will look for any opportunity to prey on vulnerable patients. The May 2020 Rogue Rx Activity Report details the trends NABP identified during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

NABP is the only not-for-profit professional association that represents the boards of pharmacy in all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and all 10 Canadian provinces. Its member boards of pharmacy are responsible for ensuring the safety of the prescription drug supply chain and the products in it.