The motto of the State of Maine, “Dirigo”, or “I guide/lead” seems to be prophetic in the way the state might lead the whole country to change its drug importation law.
Several years ago, the idea of importing prescription drugs from other countries was heavily debated, but any actual attempts to legalize it were thwarted by the FDA because of the supposed risk of citizens ending up with counterfeit medicines.
Over the past year, however, against a backdrop of extortionate medicine costs, the State of Maine enacted a law that allowed its residents to legally obtain prescription drugs from internet pharmacies in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, the State’s close neighbor.
As feared by the pharmaceutical industry, this law in the State of Maine has set a precedent for something larger than itself. In December 13, 2013, a bill called Personal Drug Importation Fairness Act was proposed. The bill would allow American citizens “to buy prescription drugs from countries with a comparable safety standard the US or better, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Africa, and countries in the European Union”. A purchase must be accompanied by a valid prescription for a supply not exceeding 90 days and must be dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. The prescription drug must have the same active ingredients, route of administration, and strength as an FDA-approved prescription drug.” (Personal Drug Importation Fairness Act)
Whether the bill passes or becomes a template for individual states to follow, will remain to be seen, but with the current high prices of prescription drugs and many dissatisfied citizens who pay the highest prices for drugs compared to any other country in the world, some kind of change is very likely to come.
Will the lower prices come with a risk of counterfeit drugs? Perhaps the state should create a list of reliable foreign pharmacies or some kind of authentication scheme? Please share your opinions on Pharmacy Reviewer: Maine to Allow Prescription-Drug Imports