While U.S. Sen. David Vitter can certainly be applauded for trying to help Americans access affordable medicines, we agree with Sen. Mary Landrieu that searching the international marketplace is not necessarily the best place to shop for discounted drugs.
National news reports over the weekend documented how deadly imported drugs can be, opening up the unwitting consumer to counterfeit medicines from everything from birth control pills to cough syrups.
When a consumer tries to buy drugs over the Internet from foreign countries, safeguards fail. Unlike American medicines, there is no guarantee of product testing. Pedigree papers can be forged. There is no guarantee the supplier is even legitimate or that the product is what is on the label.
Sen. Landrieu recognized these hazards, even while the discussion about drug importation was going on in the Senate. We applaud her for her vote on the Cochran Amendment.
As consumers, we all tend to assume the safeguards we enjoy through the Federal Drug Administration exist equally around the world. This is not so.
The good news is that there are programs here in this country to make medicines more affordable. For those under 60 years of age, there is the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (www.pparx.org), and for those over 60, the Louisiana Senior Rx program is extremely helpful (www.louisianaseniorx.org).
As Sen. Vitter said, a medicine that sits on a shelf is no good if a person cannot afford it. But equally accurate is the warning Sen. Landrieu underscored: It is very important for a medicine to be safe for the consumer, as well as affordable.
We applaud their efforts, we thank Sen. Landrieu for protecting our safety, and we encourage all consumers who seek assistance paying for their medicines to access the programs mentioned. These programs do work.
Cheron Brylski, Women’s Health Access Project
Ashley Cobette, Director, Louisiana PPARX
Donna Ganier, Director, Louisiana MMARX