As the nation tightens its borders against possible future terrorist attacks, it risks undermining security and safety by opening them to non-FDA approved prescription drugs from other countries, according to a comprehensive report released today in New York City by Giuliani Partners, headed by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In the report, "Examination and Assessment of Prescription Drug Importation from Foreign Sources to the United States," Giuliani says that the risks of importing drugs from outside the U.S. far outweigh any alleged benefits. The report was commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Some states are currently endorsing or running drug importation schemes and a handful of others are considering joining their ranks. The U.S. Congress also is considering allowing the practice. Until safety and security needs can be resolved, the report says, "legislative action to open our borders should be halted."
"We should not contemplate opening our borders to threats to our medicine supply when in all other aspects we are searching for ways to tighten the security of our borders," Giuliani says in his report.
According to Giuliani, opening U.S. borders to prescription drugs could provide an unfortunate opportunity for terrorists.
"Several credible sources have identified links between counterfeit goods, including pharmaceuticals, and organized criminals and terrorist groups," he said. "It is not difficult to imagine a scenario in which terrorist groups could use this system to either finance operations or, worse, as a vehicle of attack."
Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of PhRMA said, "We understand that some Americans are looking for cheaper drugs from abroad, but this report underscores the dangers of doing so. We have several safe and legal options for those looking for ways to reduce their prescription drug costs, including the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. We encourage all Americans to turn to these safe and credible methods before putting their health at risk buying unregulated drugs from a Web site or another country."
The report calls on the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a threat and vulnerability assessment. "Safety will surely be compromised if current efforts to broadly legalize importation are successful. The United States cannot afford to go forward with such a program."
Key findings of the report include:
Unapproved drugs have already compromised the system. According to the report, nearly 90 percent of the suspected drug parcels randomly examined by airport mail facilities contained non-FDA approved medicines from Pakistan, Brazil, the Netherlands and Canada.
Drugs are already coming from foreign sources. Several of the large Canadian Internet pharmacies have stated publicly that they are already filling prescriptions with drugs from other countries. Patients cannot assume these medications are identical to what they would get in the United States.