Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Drug Importation: A New Beginning?

Drug importation into the U.S. has been declared dead more times than a narcoleptic Jason Voorhees. As a follow-up to Monday's post about parallel trade in the European Union, I regret to inform you that we may be headed for another sequel.

A couple of months ago, I was relieved to note that both Presidential candidates were backing away from drug importation into the U.S. (See Getting a Clue on Importation.)

Unfortunately, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who has been nominated by President-elect Obama to head the Department of Health and Human Services, is a big fan of importation.

Check out Senator Daschle’s 2004 Op-Ed Health-care system picks winners and losers, in which he states:

Second, to lower drug costs, we can pass bipartisan legislation supported by Republicans John McCain and Olympia Snowe and Democrats Byron Dorgan and myself that allows for the safe importation of lower-cost drugs from Canada and other countries.

FYI, he is referring to his co-sponsorship of the 2004 Senate importation bill (S.2328), which didn’t get very far. He was no longer in the Senate by the time the 2007 version (S.242 Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007) came along, so he could not join then-Senator Obama in supporting this bill.

The conventional wisdom suggests that the contaminated heparin incident, among other things, has pushed drug importation off the radar screen. But I’m not so sure given Sen. Daschle’s many, many public pro-importation comments over the years. And some groups, such as wholesalers, will potentially benefit from legalized importation, as I note in Drug Importation and Global Wholesale.

Stay tuned for Part XIII...


New Drug Channels readers can read a summary of my views in Importation Illusions (published in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing) or in many previous DC posts.


  1. How come the US government is allowing Europe and other countries to lead the charge against counterfeits?

    This does not make sense if they want to create jobs and innovation in the US. By allowing the EU to take the lead, innovation/jobs will mostly likely take place in EU.

    Then those EU companies will come over here to win the serialization business because they have a proven technology.

    It makes no sense for the US to delay. Serialization is inevitable and why have other countries take the lead and develop the technology/jobs?

  2. So what's your thought on the previous post Adam?

  3. Short answer: Europe has a much bigger problem right now because of parallel trade, whereas our relatively closed system is pretty safe. See my recent post An Unfortunate Victory for EU Repackagers.


  4. Pretty safe or is it the fact no one is talking about what is truely happening in the US. See below. The government should be stepping in and this would create a whole new industry, which is what the USA needs now. Why let Europe be the ones to develop technology and jobs.

    First Foreign National Extradicted For Importing And Distributing Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals Drugs In U. S. Sentenced To Prison
    Randy Gonzales, 40, a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines, was sentenced to prison for his role in a scheme to manufacture, import and distribute counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs in the United States.

    Gonzales was extradited to the United States from Bangkok, Thailand on March 26, 2008 and indicted four days later. Special agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA)seized more than 60,000 counterfeit Viagra pills and 15,000 counterfeit Cialis pills. The counterfeit drugs were valued at more than $776,000.

    Miami Man Sentenced To 20 Years For Massive Drug Diversion Operation
    A Miami man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for running a massive drug diversion operation that made millions of dollars in illegal profit. Jose Luis Perez, 52, had illegally bought expired, counterfeit or adulterated medicines, relabeled them and shipped them through a series of his own pharmaceutical firms in order to sell them to mainstream suppliers.

    Investigators were tipped off by a Cincinnati pharmaceutical wholesaler who, while filling a prescription, noticed that the wrong pills were inside and the accompanying paperwork was for a different drug.

    At Perez’ Hialeah warehouse, law enforcement officers found $500,000 of prescription pills used for the treatment of HIV-related illnesses, Schizophrenia and erectile dysfunction. Law enforcement also found counterfeit labels and prescription paperwork for more that $8 million-worth of pharmaceuticals.

    Local pharmacist, businesses disciplined by state
    (Nov. 30, 2008; The Telegraph) In 2006, Hudson resident Richard Minasian, owner of Nashua-based Armin Medical LLC, pleaded no contest in a Florida court that he and a Miami man had sold drugs with fake pedigrees.

    That same year, the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy revoked Minasian's license to sell drugs for at least 10 years, and he was assessed a $29,000 fine, but $20,000 of it was stayed for two years pending good behavior.