Easing of importation rules draws fire from PhRMA

A move by US Customs to relax enforcement on the importation of Rx drugs from Canada has drawn fire from the industry trade group PhRMA. “We are adamantly opposed to anything that will allow the importation of drugs outside of the FDA’s safety system,” PhRMA SVP Ken Johnson told MM&M. Customs officials said this week they would no longer seize limited amounts of pharmaceuticals from private citizens. The move follows passage of a bill by Congress and sent to President Bush that included an amendment barring Customs agents from seizing up to a 90-day of medicine from US citizens re-entering the country from Canada. The amendment excluded packages sent by mail. Although most prescription drug importations are illegal under US law, Customs had neglected small orders coming across the border from Canada, until launching a new policy of seizures last year. As of mid-July, Customs had seized more than 37,000 prescription-drug packages from Canada, according to published reports. Johnson said patient safety was central to PhRMA’s opposition to importation of drugs into the US. “It’s not about sales,” he said. “It’s about the safety of the medicine, the reputation of the company and the reputation of the brand medicines that they sell.” Johnson said the industry must do a better job of educating government and the public of the dangers of importing drugs from other countries. “It’s troubling that so many people are being cavalier about their safety,” he said.