Drug importation: Another security issue – Pacific Research Institute

Drug importation: Another security issue

To date, 81 Americans have died from taking contaminated heparin, the widely used blood thinner.

These deaths should serve as a chilling reminder of the danger posed by unfettered drug importation. Nevertheless, many lawmakers have promised to allow the “safe” importation of pharmaceuticals. But “safe” importation is impossible, as the international drug market is awash with dangerous drugs. The World Health Organization estimates that around 10 percent of the global drug supply is counterfeit. Most foreign governments have pharmaceutical safety regulations that pale in comparison to America’s.

The recent heparin fiasco is proof positive of that. China, where the raw ingredients for heparin are often manufactured, has been identified as the source of the contaminant.

The FDA has admitted that it hadn’t inspected the plant responsible for the tainted heparin before it approved the plant’s products for sale — a clerical error sent inspectors to the wrong plant with a similar sounding name.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the FDA inspected only 13 out of 714 approved Chinese pharmaceuticals firms last year. That’s down from an all-time high of 18 in 2004.

Worldwide, the average foreign drug manufacturer importing into the United States is inspected only once every eight to 12 years. American plants, on the other hand, get checked at least every two years.

Unfortunately, drugs imported from “Canada” aren’t any safer.

To be sure, many perfectly safe pharmaceuticals are manufactured in Canada. But when an American imports a drug from a pharmacy that claims to be headquartered in Canada, there’s no guarantee that the shipment will contain drugs that are actually manufactured there.

In 2004, FDA researchers purchased three commonly prescribed prescription drugs from an online pharmacy claiming to be “located in and operated out of Canada.” None of the drugs was actually made in Canada, and in lab tests, every single one of them failed the FDA’s standards for purity and potency.

Politicians who want to keep the American people safe from foreign threats should take note.

As Rudy Giuliani noted to the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2004, “It seems counter-intuitive to contemplate opening our borders with regard to our medicine supply when in all other aspects of border security and protection, we as a country are looking for ways to tighten security.”

Sally C. Pipes is President & CEO of the Pacific Research Institute and author of “Miracle Cure: How to Solve America’s Health-Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn’t the Answer.”

*This article has appeared in the following publications. Title of article may vary.
Nevada Journal & Tri-County Times (Nevada, IA), June 12, 2008
Tristate Observer (Milford, PA), June 6, 2008
Utica Shelby Source (MI), June 1, 2008
Zephyr (Galesburg, IL), May 30, 2008
El Extra ((Dallas, TX), May 29, 2008
Rabbit Creek Journal (Clipper Mills, CA), May 29, 2008
Post (Norton, VA), May 29, 2008
Tinytown Gazette (Cohasset, MA), May 28, 2008
Mid-Valley News (El Monte, CA), May 28, 2008
St. Mary’s Today (MD), May 28, 2008
Santa Ynez Valley Journal (Montecito, CA), May 22, 2008
Times Weekly (Joliet, IL), May 22, 2008
Souderton Independent (PA), May 21,2008
The News-Item (Shamokin, PA), May 17, 2008

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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