CLEAR News - Summer 2003

Joining Forces Against Importation of Prescription Drugs

In response to the dangers of the illegal importation of prescription drugs from Canada to the US, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the US and the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities in Canada have recently issued a joint position statement/communiqu� pledging to work together on this issue.  NABP and NAPRA are responsible for regulating the practice of pharmacists and ensuring public safety in their respective jurisdictions. 

According to many health officials, public safety is jeopardized when consumers purchase prescription medications from countries other than where the patient lives.  Many US patients, especially those on a fixed income, are turning to Canadian pharmacies because the drugs can be purchased more cheaply and the currency exchange rate is favorable.  But, at what potential health cost?  Officials with the US Food and Drug Administration, both the American and Canadian Pharmacists Associations, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and many other pharmacy associations and schools warn about the health risks associated with imported prescription drugs.  Since they�re not subject to US regulation or FDA approval processes, these foreign and online pharmacies could dispense improper dosages, contaminated drugs, or even incorrect medications, especially since foreign name-brand drugs and dosage forms may not be equivalent to their US counterparts.  Another concern is that importation severs the pharmacist-patient relationship, compromising the safety and effectiveness of medication management. 

In their statement, NABP and NAPRA agree that �the international movement of prescription drugs between Canada and the United States undermines the regulatory systems established in each country to protect consumers.�  Barbara Wells, Executive Director of NAPRA, and Carmen Catizone, Executive Director/Secretary of NABP, signed the agreement pledging to work together to protect the citizens in their respective jurisdictions and to promote compliance with federal, state, and provincial laws.  Catizone stated that �it is imperative that we work closely with NAPRA and their provincial and territorial members to tackle the challenges pharmacy regulators face on both sides of the border and protect public safety.�  Wells added, �This joint resolution signals our commitments to work together to support the ability and effectiveness of our member organizations in protecting the citizens each are mandated to serve.�

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