AMA Delegates Vote To Endorse Purchase of Lower-Cost Prescription Drugs From Other Nations
The American Medical Association on Monday voted to endorse the purchase of lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other nations, provided that U.S. regulators can ensure the medications are safe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. According to AMA, which voted on the issue during its annual meeting in Atlanta, reimportation should be allowed if the medications are FDA-approved and subject to reliable electronic tracking and if Congress provides FDA with the resources and authority to ensure the supply is reliable.
An AMA survey of 6,000 members found physicians are equally divided on supporting the practice, according to the Journal-Constitution. The group still opposes individual reimportation through Internet pharmacies until safety can be guaranteed. Delegate Dr. Paul Matson said, "Drug costs are so high for seniors that they are willing to risk going outside the U.S. Counterfeit drugs is why we need to do this" (Miller/Wahlberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/7).
In other reimportation news, Canada's Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association said it will not renew the licenses of Internet pharmacies that "knowingly fill prescriptions that are issued contrary to known provincial medical standards of care." The move is designed to address cases in which physicians co-sign bulk U.S. prescription drug orders without evaluating patients. Nearly half of Canada's 150 Internet and mail-order pharmacies are located in Manitoba, and "the move has the potential to significantly reduce the flow of lower-priced Canadian prescription drugs into the United States," according to CongressDaily. Several members of MPA said Internet pharmacies are creating a shortage of qualified pharmacists in Manitoba (CongressDaily, 12/6).
NPR's "Day to Day" on Tuesday is scheduled to include a report on whether Canadian consumers are concerned about the safety of their prescription drug supply and U.S. government opposition to the reimportation of lower-cost medications from Canada because of safety issues (Mann, "Day to Day," NPR, 12/7). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer at 3 p.m. ET.
Also at AMA's meeting on Monday, the group's policy-making board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling for the creation of guidelines that would eliminate confidentiality clauses that prevent researchers from discussing pharmaceutical trial results with other scientists and doctors. The resolution, introduced by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, advises AMA to develop the guidelines with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and other groups to remove confidentiality restrictions.
Alan Goldhammer, PhRMA vice president for regulatory affairs, said PhRMA's primary concern is that releasing data on part of a study could lead to a misinterpretation of overall results. He added that PhRMA is willing to meet with AMA and others to discuss the issue further. PhRMA opposes mandatory registration of clinical trials and recently launched a Web site on which manufacturers can voluntarily publish trial results (Meier, New York Times, 12/7).