The US is looking to reform its healthcare system and this has brought reimportation into the limelight again, with a bill which would allow people to obtain drugs from certain other countries being introduced in the Senate.
Senator Drogan believes the bill could save the US $50bn (€33.4bn) over the next decade but speaking at AAPS Jim Thomson, chair of the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM), slammed the idea.
Thomson said the “rush towards savings” is “legislative madness”. This viewpoint is underpinned by Thomson’s belief that supply chains in the regions the US would import drugs from, including Canada and the European Union (EU), are vulnerable to counterfeits.
The Partnership for Safe Medicines, which is lead by Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America’s (PhRMA) director, expressed similar sentiments, describing the belief that medicines in other Western countries are safe as a “dangerous misconception”.
Thomson elaborated on this point, claiming that free trade in the European Union, and the parallel trade market this creates, makes it very difficult for regulators to control the drug supply chain.
He believes that parallel trade creates a “porous supply chain” and the nature of the EU, which includes 27 nations at varying stages of economic development, means everyone is at risk from weakness in quality enforcement in one country.
By importing drugs from the EU the US would also be vulnerable to these weaknesses, according to Thomson, potentially resulting in substandard or counterfeit drugs entering the legitimate supply chain and reaching patients.
“What price free trade?” asked Thomson, “what price patient safety?”
EAASM is funded by a number of pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer Healthcare, Nycomed and Boehringer Ingelheim.