Wednesday, December 22, 2004
At its interim meeting this December, the American Medical Association (AMA) for the first time offered its conditional support for prescription drug reimportantion. Although expressing concern about patient safety, the AMA said that the ability of pharmacies and wholesalers to buy back drugs made in the United States from other nations provides a way to help lower prescription drug prices and increase the access to affordable care for many patients. If such a buy-back system is put into the place, the AMA said that it must meet "rigorous safety requirements." Some of those safety requirments include a closed distribution chain which allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to vouch for the drugs' authencity and safety. The AMA specifically rejected as a safe the practice of patients importing cheaper medications from internet pharmacies. It is unclear what impact the AMA's conditional endorsement of drug re-importation will have on Congress when it considers related legislation next year.
Of course, the AMA's opinion may not matter, as a Presidential report makes it much less likely that such re-importation efforts will be pursued. The New York Times and NPR have stories on the administration's review of the feasibility and cost savings of such drug re-importation efforts. See Tom's post below for more information on the report.