Friend or Foe: Prescription Drug Reimportation in the US - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Friend or Foe: Prescription Drug Reimportation in the US
Legislation has hampered cross-border drug importation and limited choice.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 35, Issue 2, pp. 97-98

Potential remedies

But in the immediate future, reimportation remains a controversial issue. Making reimportation legal may not bring long-term benefits to the US market because of already mentioned concerns over safety. Reimportation also could reduce companies' revenue and thereby deplete funding for new-drug research and development.

American consumers will benefit most when drug prices are controlled at a global level. The authors propose the formation of an international body of pharmaceutical leaders to monitor the flow of pharmaceuticals across borders and to regulate prices internationally. (FDA and other regulatory agencies do not regulate prices.) An international consortium of pharmaceutical companies could work to find common ground with consumers on drug pricing internationally, which could reduce drug reimportation.

An active dialogue between company representatives and government representing American consumers also is necessary to keep drug reimportation off the table. Educating consumers about the risks of bringing drugs into the country illegaly is crucial, as is discussing alternatives to low-cost products.

Om V. Singh, PhD, is assistant professor in the Division of Biological and Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford, PA,
. Thomas E. Colonna, PhD, is associate director of the Bioscience Regulatory Affairs Program in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC,


1. T.S. Rector and P.J. Venus, Health Aff. 23 (2004) 213–222.

2. D.G. Safran et al., Health Aff. Supp. web exclusive (2002), pp. W253–68.

3. Public Law 108-173, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.

4. HHS, Medicare Modernization Act Update–Overview,, accessed Jan. 5, 2011.

5. HHS, Report on Prescription Drug Importation (December 2004),, accessed Dec. 1, 2010.

6. American Progress, "Prescription Drug Reimportation: The Law and Its Problems,", accessed Dec. 1, 2010.

7. US Congress, H.R. 1298: Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009,, accessed Jan. 5, 2011.

8. HHS, FY2010 Budget in Brief,, accessed Dec. 20 2010.

9. HHS, FY2010 Budget,, accessed Dec. 20, 2010.


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