Pharmaceutical disobedience

Jan 27, 2009

Healthcare consumers, benefits managers, and even government officials are using the internet to buy unapproved prescription drugs illegally, according to a report to be published in the International Journal of Electronic Healthcare.

Daniel Lorence of Penn State Center for Technology Assessment, at University Park, Pennsylvania, suggests that the phenomenal growth of the internet as an information source for people seeking medical and health information is being paralleled by growing civil disobedience as healthcare consumers turn to related outlets to purchase the prescription drugs they want directly, that may be otherwise unavailable from their healthcare providers.

"This phenomenon carries important social and policy implications as the delivery of healthcare continues to defy national borders and policies," says Lorence. "The most recent (2002) US Census data suggests an estimated 43.6 million US citizens did not have health insurance for the previous 12 months," Lorence points out. These numbers are likely to grow during a period of economic recession as well as the number of people who are simply under-insured or whose insurance precludes access to particular treatments.

Lorence adds that it is no surprise that US consumers are more sensitive to the higher prices they pay for medications relative to other developed countries. The price gap between nations for prescription drugs has widened since 2000 and there is no sign of it narrowing in the foreseeable future.

"Such differences in prices between the USA and the seven wealthy nations, including Canada, largely reflect differing public policies on drug pricing and costs," explains Lorence. The fundamental reason for this gap is that the US government allows drug makers to raise prices freely whereas other nations limit prices and costs through price negotiations, across-the-board price cuts, reference pricing, profit caps, putting drug spending on a budget, and other methods.

Given this set of circumstances, cheap and readily available prescription drugs via the internet becomes an attractive proposition for countless underinsured Americans.

The purchase of discounted prescription drugs from Canada, via the internet or direct travel across the border, appears as the most long-standing innovation adopted by American seniors and a growing number of health benefits managers in meeting their needs, says Lorence. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to prevent such civil disobedience through various actions. Nevertheless, a growing number of seniors and benefits managers continue to defy the FDA assisted to some extent by off-message government officials and even policy-makers.

The FDA policy to be found on its website (www.fda.gov/ora/import/traveler_alert.htm) states: "Avoid purchasing any drug products that are not approved for sale in the U.S. (including foreign-manufactured versions of U.S. approved drugs). FDA cannot assure that these products conform to the manufacturing and quality assurance procedures mandated by U.S. laws and regulations and, therefore, these products may be unsafe. In addition, such products are illegal in the U.S. and, therefore, may be subject to entry refusal…"

"The FDA continues to obscure the legality of this issue, while still threatening to prosecute consumers," says Lorence.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

Explore further: Brazil to study legalization of medical marijuana

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Underfire Uber ramps up rider safety

2 hours ago

Uber is ramping up driver background checks and other security measures worldwide after the smartphone-focused car-sharing service was banned in New Delhi following the alleged rape of a passenger.

US probe links NKorea to Sony hacking

2 hours ago

A U.S. official says federal investigators have now connected the Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. hacking to North Korea and are expected to make an announcement in the near future.

New York state bans fracking

2 hours ago

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.

Sony cancels NKorea parody film release after threats

2 hours ago

Hollywood studio Sony Pictures on Wednesday abruptly canceled the December 25 release date of "The Interview," a parody film which has angered North Korea and triggered chilling threats from hackers.

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

9 hours ago

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

11 hours ago

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

Infertility, surrogacy in India

11 hours ago

Infertility is a growing problem worldwide. A World Health Organization report estimates that 60-to-80 million couples worldwide currently suffer from infertility.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VOR
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2009
US drug economy-culture is one of greed over health. (also true of insurance and some forms of care)
More public dollars are needed for drug research, and other devices as mentioned in article.
FDA is joke of the world. They support this policy and are also inferior to peers in general effectiveness and policies. Some European drugs are better or only standards of care vs US couterparts but they are not approved in US, due to FDA idiocy, so most doctors and patients dont use them. But you can get them for yourself due to a law that allows you to import them for your own use. One example is Milnacipran-superior design with no US equal (yet).
Izzy
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2009
I agree with VOR about the greed issue and I'm in the Pharma industry. The biggest problem with the FDA is political and pharma influence and interference. They really need to be non-pharma scientists only evaluating these NDA's.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.