Importing prescription drugs worth exploring

I wish to provide some perspective from a master of public health student with regard to a recent editorial (“The Delusion of Importing Foreign Drugs,” Oct. 9) that appeared in the Gazette.

The author expressed his views on the risks of importing prescription drugs from foreign countries with a particular focus on Canada. It is clear from his article that Mr. Pitts does not believe the Food and Drug Administration will be able to find a viable solution for safely and cost-effectively importing prescription drugs into the United States.

I would like to shed some more light on why the FDA, as well as past and present administrations, have explored this option as a solution to rising drug costs for decades.

Analysis of data from the Commonwealth Fund showed that in 2016, approximately 45 million Americans, or 18 percent of the adult population, said they did not fill a prescription because of the cost. This is because prescription drug prices in the United States are at an all-time high and continue to rise.

While importing drugs from foreign countries is a risky option, the overall benefits outweigh the risks. The most important benefit is saving 50-70 percent on brand-name drugs that treat, among other things, depression, leukemia and high cholesterol. If the FDA can implement strategies to address safety concerns associated with importing foreign drugs, such as charging a fee for additional FDA monitoring, importing foreign drugs would be more feasible.

Not exploring all options for reducing prescription drug prices, including importing drugs from foreign countries, would be a disservice to the American people.

Elizabeth Cooke

Christiansburg

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