When Americans purchase medication for themselves or a loved one, the last thing they should worry about is whether they are getting what they paid for. Or whether it might actually harm them. Yet the public has reason to be alarmed should new drug importation legislation backed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) make its way into law.
Efforts to weaken FDA oversight of medications sold in the U.S. are not new. For years, in the name of cost savings, activists have attempted to circumvent the standards that have made the U.S. supply chain the safest in the world. As we face the growing threat of dangerous – and even deadly – counterfeit medicines, now is not the time to let down our guard.
The world market is inundated with illicit counterfeit goods that undermine the intellectual property rights of innovators and jeopardize the economic welfare of entire industries. Counterfeits have grown into a big, bad business valued at $461 billion annually. What’s worse, counterfeit medicines also put public health and safety at risk. In 2016 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Chamber’s David Hirschmann highlighted just a handful of tragic headlines resulting from fake pharmaceuticals: patients who met an untimely death from taking counterfeit fentanyl 100 times stronger than morphine, or fake cancer medicines that simply didn’t work because they contained no active ingredients.
In a recent Washington Examiner opinion piece, former Arizona Sheriff Derek Arnson warned that Senator Sander’s importation legislation would make it even harder for law enforcement to combat these problems and would “vastly increase the flow of illegal narcotics and counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl into the United States.”
This is why the U.S. Chamber this week sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions objecting to any amendments to the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act that would allow the importation of foreign pharmaceuticals into the U.S.
Because counterfeit medicines are one less health care concern Americans should have to worry about.
Editor's note: This originally appeared on the Global Intellectual Property Center's blog.