Kaiser Poll Show Support for Personal Imporatation

Kaiser Poll Show Support for Personal Imporatation

Monday, January 30, 2017

Does Rep. Price support President Trump's campaign pledge for Personal Importation? An open letter to the President, Rep. Price and the U.S. Senate


The following letter was sent to members of the United States Senate and to the President at the White House and Rep. Tom Price, the designee for Secretary of Health and Human Services:

President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
 Washington, DC 20500
January 30, 2017
An Open Letter to President Trump and Health and Human Services Designee Rep. Price:
I am writing in my capacity as publisher of the TodaysSeniorsNetwork series of web blogs to respectfully request clarification on the stance of Rep. Price as regards his support—or lack thereof—of personal importation of safe, affordable brand-name prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries whose standards of safety of efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.

We applaud President Trump’s continued expressions of support for personal importation as evidenced by his campaign pledge, and more recently, his sharp criticism of the predatory pricing practices of Pharma that deny access to literally millions of Americans to vital medicines because the high prices render the medicines  unaffordable and unavailable.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Rep. Price, he and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) engaged in an exchange based upon Rep. Price’s continued references to his goal being ‘accessibility’ to health care for all Americans. Senator Sanders pointed out that accessibility is not the same as the ability to purchase or afford adequate medical care, or a ‘million dollar’ home.

No other example so vividly illustrates this point as the cost of prescription medicines. A medicine that is unaffordable is inherently unavailable, and a medicine that is unavailable and not able to be afforded is a medicine that is denied.

However, a recent article from Roll Call offers Rep. Price an opportunity to shed light on his definition of accessibility to health care, based upon a situation involving his role in seeking an FDA exemption for a specific case of personally imported denied to a constituent because the medicine in question was also available in the U.S.

Roll Call noted that “…In February 2006, Rep. Price’s office appealed to the FDA on behalf of a constituent in need of a medicine for a surgery. While both drugs were available for sale in the United States, the patient was trying to import them from Canada, where they were presumably cheaper. The drugs were being held in customs, and the FDA explained to Price that it wasn’t legal to import the drugs manufactured outside of the country, even though there are some exceptions to this policy…”

Ironically, one of the exceptions under which personal importation is allowable is if the medicine is unavailable. As explained above, this raises the question of whether or not a medicine is unavailable if it is unaffordable, or is it merely ‘accessible.’

When Rep. Price wrote the letter, the FDA and U.S. Customs were engaged in collusion for such seizures which were accompanied by a letter threatening the patient who personally imported their medicines that by signing the letter they were admitting they were guilty of violating the law, that they were pledging that they would not attempt to import medicines in the future, and, if they did, their signature on the Customs letter would constitute an admission of guilt.

For 16 years, as publisher of http:/RxforAmericanHealth.blogspot.com, http:AmericanRxBillofRights.blogspot.com. and www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com,  I and other advocates have worked on behalf of the rights of Americans to have access to safe, affordable prescription medicines. In this instance, we successfully worked with contacts in the Senate to have the seizures halted, and to also specifically deny funding to Customs for such seizures.

That is why we are asking Rep. Price to now explain if his definition of ‘access ’includes support of the rights of Americans to engage in personal importation as he sought—and failed in-- on behalf of his constituent.   

In a recent letter from many Democrat members of the U.S. House of Representative to President Barrack Obama, they sought to “…  encourage your administration to explore implementing drug importation rules that are already part of U.S. law. Under authority from the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify the importation of prescription drugs from other countries under specific qualifications. This regulatory action would pose no risk to public health and safety and could result in a significant reduction in the cost of prescription drugs to American families.”

This leads to three specific questions that should be addressed by the President and Rep. Price:

1. Will he, if confirmed as HHS Secretary, continue his previously stated support of personal importation;
2. Does Rep. Price believe that a prescription medicine is in and of itself unavailable because it is unaffordable, thereby meeting the FDA’s stated and printed decision that a medicine or device that is unavailable is thereby exempt from restrictions of personal importation?
Will Rep. Price, if confirmed, follow the directive and intent of Congress as stated in the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003?


These questions are respectfully submitted.  We look forward to your response, and your stance on personal importation of safe, affordable medicines from Tier One countries—the most immediate relief from the predatory drug pricing practices of Pharma.

Daniel Hines
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