Customs Apologizes for Lack of Warning on Prescription Drug Seizures
An official for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency on Monday apologized for the lack of advance warning to the public about a recent increase in seizures of prescription drugs purchased from Canada, the Los Angeles Times reports (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 3/14).
Customs officials have seized about 13,000 packages of prescription drugs sent from Canadian pharmacies to U.S. residents since Nov. 17, 2005, when the agency began to increase enforcement of federal laws that restrict the purchase of prescription drugs from abroad. The purchase of medications from abroad is illegal, but customs and FDA officials generally have allowed the practice.
Some Canadian pharmacy officials have said that they believe the increased seizures are related to the launch of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Customs officials late last month acknowledged the increased enforcement against the purchase of medications from abroad but said the policy change was not related to the launch of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Several lawmakers have called for an investigation into the policy change (California Healthline, 3/9).
On Monday, Vera Adams, executive director of trade enforcement for customs, said, "I'm sorry we didn't do a better job maybe announcing that we were implementing this," adding, "We did not anticipate the backlash." However, Adams said, "I will never apologize for trying to protect the American public."
According to Adams, customs has informed about 12,735 U.S. residents that their medications were seized. Adams also reiterated that the policy change was not related to the Medicare prescription drug benefit and said that criticism of the change will not affect the actions of customs.
Adams said that customs made the policy change after some lawmakers and a Government Accountability Office report raised concerns about the safety of medications purchased from abroad (Los Angeles Times, 3/14).