With the rising cost of drug prices, millions of law abiding Americans are resorting to buying prescriptions outside the U.S. A poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8% of respondents said they or someone in their household had imported a drug at some point, a figure that would translate to about 19 million adults in the U.S. based on current census population estimates. This may underscore the actual numbers since people are generally uncomfortable about revealing financial struggles or that they have engaged in an illegal act.
While the Internet has made access to prescription drugs from abroad much easier, it has increased the risks to patients who are not able to verify the actual source or quality of product. The Food and Drug Administration has cautioned that many online pharmacies aren’t what they seem to be. The imported medications could be inferior or expired and some could be counterfeits. Many medicines purchased from another country are the same as the ones patients buy in the U.S. and can cost up to half than they do in the U.S., which leaves little choice for the struggling patients.
In 2015 the FDA implemented a rule that would give government border inspectors expanded authority to destroy drugs imported for personal use at their point of entry. However, the law isn’t rigorously enforced, in part, because it is difficult to monitor the entry of medicine in suitcases and small packages.
Rising prescription costs will undoubtedly have implications on the National Health Policy and requires bi-partisan partnership by Congress to act in the best interest of the public.
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