NCL statement on vaccine for COVID-19

For immediate release: November 12, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC –The National Consumers League (NCL) welcomes the very hopeful news that a coronavirus vaccine with a reported efficacy rate of 90 percent may be approved and rolled out in the next few months. NCL has historically advocated for vaccines because they have overwhelming effectiveness and safety profiles, preventing billions of often debilitating and deadly diseases across the globe—from small pox to measles to polio. The clinical evidence on the coronavirus vaccine—developed by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE—though incomplete at the moment, is very promising.

“We applaud the unprecedented cooperation by public and private entities, along with concerted coordination among scientists, doctors, and researchers that has gone into developing a vaccine to combat this terrible pandemic, which has killed over 237,000 Americans, struck 10 million people, and only shows signs of worsening over the winter months,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “As this vaccine moves closer to being cleared for widespread use and the safety data verified, we are grateful to the companies and government officials who urgently prioritized the development of an effective and safe vaccine to combat the scourge of COVID-19. We are also encouraged that other companies are in the later stages of reviewing their own COVID-19 vaccines, which use different technologies to fight the virus but hopefully will be effective and safe as well.”

The FDA will be reviewing the safety data in the next few weeks on the Pfizer vaccine and will then determine to whom the first doses will be directed. Pfizer has said the vaccine could become available before the end of the year and that the company can produce 50 million doses globally—equivalent to reaching 25 million people because two doses are required for maximum protection from the virus. The most vulnerable populations are likely to receive the first batch of vaccines.

NCL cautioned consumers that during this period, people should maintain all the safety practices for preventing spread of the virus—wearing masks and practicing social distancing and keeping social gatherings to a minimum.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

CMS Proposed Rule Ignores Data & Bipartisan Support for the Value of Copay Assistance Programs

By NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras

Americans love getting a discount. As consumers, we like to shop to save without compromising the quality of the products we buy. But in healthcare, the stakes are higher at the checkout counter. Patients not only want a discount, they depend on it to afford necessary, sometimes lifesaving, medication to treat their health condition.

Despite what we know about the value and impact of copay assistance programs, a new policy from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could put a barrier between these critical programs and the patients who need them most.

Manufacturer copay assistance programs include discounts, coupon cards, and vouchers which many of our friends, family members, and neighbors use to afford their prescriptions. Studies have shown that without these financial support systems, many patients couldn’t afford their medicines.

The CMS proposal, which has yet to be finalized, would require manufacturers to guarantee that this assistance goes directly to patients—and if manufacturers do not, they would be required to include the value of the copay assistance in Medicaid Best Price and Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) calculations. That would be fine but there’s a  problem.

CMS has a separate policy that was already finalized earlier this year: the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) Rule for 2021. In part, the NBPP allows health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to use policies that stop copay assistance from counting towards a patient’s out-of-pocket burden—sometimes called copay accumulator adjustment programs.

NCL criticized HHS for permitting health plans to use these so-called copay accumulator adjustment programs.

“Removing this cost-sharing assistance will force those patients to pay thousands of dollars more in unexpected costs at the pharmacy. These new costs could push some to forego those medications, leading to worsened health outcomes. This could compromise medication adherence and will lead to increased health care costs over time.” – NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg

Separate studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and IQVIA show that out-of-pocket costs can contribute substantially to reduced adherence or to patients not taking their medication altogether. This is counterproductive because if patients do not take their meds as directed, it means higher costs in other parts of the healthcare system stemming from increased hospitalizations, ER visits, and long-term health issues.

If the data doesn’t convince CMS, voters should. Weeks before the presidential election, we can clearly see widespread support for the value of copay assistance regardless of political affiliation. According to a new National Hemophilia Foundation national survey, more than 80 percent of registered voters believe the government should require copay assistance to be applied to patients’ out-of-pocket costs. Even lawmakers agree that CMS should stop this policy before it launches. A bipartisan group of 36 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to CMS urging the agency to not finalize the “contentious line extension section or the Medicaid best price change as currently defined in the notice of proposed rulemaking.”

Clearly, copay assistance is critical to Americans. We hope CMS reevaluates the potentially harmful consequences of this new rule on patients and pulls back this counterproductive proposal.

NCL testified before FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) testified before the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For over 120 years, NCL has advocated on behalf of consumers who depend on vaccines as lifesaving medical interventions. NCL extended its gratitude to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee for all they do to protect public health and for the opportunity to speak before the Committee.

In its testimony, NCL highlighted the following priorities: the deployment of Emergency Use Authorizations; the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine; and the inclusion of diversity in clinical trials. These three concerns align directly with NCL’s efforts to enhance vaccine confidence and uptake, especially in the context of COVID-19.

Safety and Effectiveness:

NCL trusts that the FDA will release a vaccine only upon careful consideration of its safety and effectiveness. Post-market surveillance of the vaccine is imperative to determining the ongoing efficacy of the vaccine. Implementing the release of a vaccine on such a magnificent scale will involve precise coordination that traverses all levels of government and consumers will rely on public health agencies to communicate and respond to any potential adverse events regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA):

There has never been a more critical time for consumers to have confidence in the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is entrusted with ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of the treatments needed to treat and prevent the spread of the virus.

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have received conflicting information from the Administration on various COVID-19 treatments. NCL is aware that developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is a time-sensitive priority, however, we are concerned that consumers may believe that the FDA is hastily approving investigational tests and drugs.

NCL appreciates that the FDA recognizes that EUA is not intended to replace randomized clinical trials and that clinical trials are critically important for the definitive demonstration of safety and efficacy of a treatment. Through our education and outreach of consumers, we support the FDA in its efforts to develop a safe, effective, and expedited pathway towards a COVID-19 vaccine.

Diversity in Clinical Trials:

Finally, to mitigate the disproportionate disease burden experienced by people of color during the pandemic, NCL requests that clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine are inclusive and consist of diverse subjects. People of color are significantly underrepresented in clinical trials and undertreated in medical settings. This phenomenon will prove to be a challenge when encouraging vaccine uptake. Ensuring adequate representation in clinical trials would foster vaccine confidence across all demographics.

In closing, to stem the tide of deaths from these vaccine-preventable diseases, NCL submits these comments for review by the Committee to ensure that consumers are afforded with safe and effective vaccines to combat the pandemic.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Compromised access to the USPS could result in worsened health outcomes

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, is today expressing concern about recent cuts to funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the impact this has on consumers’ access to critical lifesaving medications.

The USPS has already suffered setbacks due to deteriorating financial conditions, and most recently the significant delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The vulnerable agency is now caught in the middle of political strife as the President ponders withholding funding for the USPS in upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation, in order to impede mail-in voting. The USPS is an essential service, and consumers rely on these services daily to pay their rent, receive wages and Social Security checks, and most importantly, receive prescription medications via mail-order pharmacies.

These developments have grave ramifications for older Americans, and particularly veterans, of whom 80 percent receive their medications through mail-order pharmacies, 90 percent of which are delivered via the USPS. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proprietary mail-order pharmacy system, the Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP), consists of a group of seven automated hub pharmacies. The CMOP processes nearly 500,000 prescriptions daily, and ships packages to more than 330,000 veterans each working day.

The VA has stated that changes in the USPS have delayed medication deliveries by 25 percent in the last year, and has experienced an influx of mail-order prescriptions as entry to VA facilities have been limited to curb the spread of COVID-19. Veterans in rural or remote areas often rely exclusively on mail-order prescriptions, and as older Americans are cautioned to quarantine and social distance throughout the pandemic, ensuring timely access to medication is ever more imperative. The VA is currently rushing to mitigate potential delays by temporarily converting its deliveries from USPS to UPS 2nd Day Air or FedEx. Additionally, the VA will set up a specialized USPS code, to help prioritize veteran prescription deliveries.

The VA has advised patients to request refills for their medications at least 10 days before their treatment course ends, to ensure timely delivery of medications. Disruptions in medication deliveries caused by a lack of funding to the USPS could drastically impact overall health outcomes and medication adherence. As the country navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that our most vulnerable have timely and adequate access to the medications they need to maintain their health and avert potential progression of disease.

The National Consumers League stands with the United States Postal Service workers, as they tirelessly work to provide essential services during these challenging times. We call on Congress to hold the Administration accountable to ensure that consumers maintain access to the essential USPS services on which they depend.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Understand the opioid epidemic and protect yourselves and loved ones

Knowing the rights, risks and responsibilities of prescription opioid use is an important first step to addressing the opioid epidemic. Whether you are taking medication to treat pain, or have friends or family members who have been prescribed opioids, knowing the facts can help prevent misuse before it occurs.

NCL recently partnered with the Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) to create a new batch of resources to help educate consumers about prescription opioid safety. The new Consumer Toolkit includes educational materials to help reinforce the need for patients, caregivers, parents, and others to understand their rights, risks, and responsibilities associated with prescription opioid use.

Prescription opioids are medications prescribed by healthcare providers to treat moderate to severe pain for health conditions that cause ongoing discomfort as well as for pain following surgery or injury. Common prescription opioids include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

If you are not sure if your medicine is an opioid, check your prescription labels to look for generic names. The National Safety Council also provides a helpful chart of medicines that contain opioids. You should always ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are not able to find the name or have questions.

Watch for risk factors associated with prescription opioids, including:

  • Mixing opioids with other medications, drugs, nutritional supplements or alcohol
  • Taking more than prescribed
  • Taking a high daily dose of opioids
  • Certain conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV, sleep apnea, or liver or lung disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Older age
  • Family history of substance abuse

Let your doctor know if you or your loved ones have any of these risk factors before filling any opioid prescription.

“Opioid misuse often starts in the home, so safe storage and disposal are key to prevention,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL. “Make sure that prescription opioids are stored securely and remember to properly dispose of all unused prescription opioids as soon as possible.”

AAOA offers a safe disposal locator for you to find a place to safety get rid of your unused medications. Find details on safe disposal options here.

The overlooked epidemic: COVID-19 and its relationship to opioids

By NCL Health Policy intern Talia Zitner

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t the only major public health crisis plaguing America. As the country struggles to contain COVID-19, the pandemic has seen a corollary rise in incidents of opioid usage and overdose. A major disruption in the way people suffering from opioid addiction receive treatment may ultimately prove critical to understanding how the opioid epidemic is directly affected by the coronavirus.

When lawmakers passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March, opioid treatment centers were not eligible to receive any of the $50 billion in funding that was allocated for Medicare providers. As a result, these essential centers—often under-supported and understaffed—saw their workforce getting ill or leaving to care for loved ones. Additionally, job loss and illness have left those already at risk of opioid addiction more vulnerable to relapse and death.

A key problem is the patient’s ability to get a prescription for addiction-managing drugs. Many centers rightly offer only one pill a day to their patients, but as the pandemic has forced the need for physical distancing and lack of physical contact, it has become increasingly difficult for people to get their medication. Long lines and hours-long wait times dissuade patients from getting their daily dosage. Few patients qualify for more than one dose per day, and few doctors are authorized to prescribe larger amounts of opioid managing medication.

Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic has overshadowed the opioid epidemic that continues to haunt millions of Americans. During this difficult time, the government should focus on the risk of opioid abuse and overdose and put more money into treatment programs and centers. Without support, more people will succumb to opioid addiction, lack of access to treatment, and death, further burdening the health care system.

Talia is a Washington, DC native and a rising sophomore at Wesleyan University, where she is studying English. Beyond health policy, Talia’s interests are in journalism, law, and social justice.

NCL urges caution following HHS drug importation announcement

December 20, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL)urges caution in light of this week’s announcement on drug importation from the Department of Health and Human Services. Our primary concerns are that this proposed new rule will put the public at greater risk of counterfeit drugs while not clearly passing on any cost savings on to consumer.

NCL recently launched the Fake Rx Action Center in conjunction with our site Fraud.org, which aims to educate consumers on the risks posed by counterfeit medicines, and how to spot, avoid, and report them should consumers come across any fakes. Counterfeit medicines have already claimed lives across the country, and this proposal further endangers consumer health by undermining the security of the American pharmaceutical supply chain.

Opening the door for states, pharmacies, and distributors to obtain medications beyond U.S. borders means that consumers could more easily fall prey to bad actors from around the globe when being provided medications that have originated outside of the U.S. regulated manufacturing and distribution supply chain. As the World Health Organization has noted regarding the broader counterfeit issue, patients may end up with medications that have the wrong active ingredient, the wrong amount of active ingredient, no active ingredient, or dangerous added ingredients. While we will continue to advocate for access to affordable drugs, it is not clear from the regulations that any potential cost savings from obtaining medications outside the U.S. borders will be passed on to individual consumers. The goal of lowering prices for consumers without a clear assurance of out of pocket cost savings in these regulations is not worth increasing the risk of harm to consumers by exposing them to medications that may not meet the clear standards of U.S. law.

Our organization has put consumers first for more than 100 years. It is our belief that there are safer and more effective ways to provide access to necessary prescription medications than to expose Americans to potentially deadly counterfeits originating outside the United States.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL announces new action center to help patients steer clear of deadly counterfeit drug websites

December 5, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today launched Fraud.org/FakeRx, a new digital consumer education campaign to address the growing global crisis of harmful counterfeit medications. The World Health Organization estimates that one in every 10 medical products circulating in developed countries is either substandard or fake, and nearly $83 billion in counterfeit drugs are sold annually. Counterfeit drugs can be, at best, a waste of money and, at worst, fatal.  The Partnership for Safe Medicines has found counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 48 states, with deaths attributed in 33.

“Counterfeit drugs are everywhere, and they are dangerous. Going to the Internet to buy medicines is a bad idea if you don’t know how to protect yourself from illegal pharmacies selling counterfeit drugs. Consumers do not realize how common counterfeits are; our campaign aims to provide the tools and resources to help consumers steer clear of illegal products and protect themselves and their families,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “NCL is launching Fraud.org/FakeRx to serve as a hub for reliable information for consumers and law enforcement.  Our action center helps consumers learn how to spot the red flags of counterfeit drugs and report issues to law enforcement.”

With the growth of Internet sales of medications, the problem of illegal pharmacies hawking counterfeit drugs is a growing risk to consumers. Visitors to Fraud.org/FakeRx can arm themselves with information to:

  • Reduce the chances they’ll encounter counterfeit drugs and shop safely for medications online
  • Learn to spot harmful counterfeit drugs if they do; and
  • Report counterfeit drugs and the websites offering them to the authorities fighting the problem.

“Criminals posing as legitimate online pharmacies are a serious threat to our nation’s drug supply and to unsuspecting consumers who purchase contaminated or potentially deadly counterfeit medications,” said George Karavetsos, former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “Policymakers, regulators, and manufacturers have clear roles for doing their part to protect our drug supply, but having informed consumers is essential to shutting down this illegal online market. This campaign gives consumers the tools they need to stay safe and keep criminals from lining their pockets with consumers’ money.”

NCL has worked with victims of suspected and confirmed counterfeit drugs to capture their experiences and report them to authorities. Two mothers who each lost their adult children to tainted counterfeit medications have lent their stories to the new campaign in hopes of helping others avoid falling to the same fate.

“I lost my son, Jerome, himself a loving big brother and father of three beautiful children, to a counterfeit drug laced with fentanyl. It took one single pill to take Jerome away from us,” said Natasha Butler, whose son was one of a wave of victims of counterfeit drug deaths in Sacramento in 2016. “We had no idea that these dangerous drugs, manufactured to look exactly like the real thing, are out there and could be the last drug someone ever takes. Anyone who takes medication or fills prescriptions needs to be aware of the risks of counterfeits, and that where you get drugs is so crucial for your safety and health. Everyone should visit Fraud.org/FakeRx to learn about the risks and how to avoid being the next victim.”

 “On June 11, 2018 my phone rang at 7:24 am. The voice on the other line told me that my beautiful daughter, Ashley, was dead. Ashley had been given a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl. I was told by the coroner that she probably died instantly,” said Andrea Thomas, a Colorado mother who, since her daughter’s death from a counterfeit drug, co-founded Voices for Awareness Foundation. “The deadly pill Ashley took looked just like her normal medication. This is an epidemic in our country that I previously knew nothing about. It is time to take action. The National Consumers League’s new resources for consumers will help spread awareness and will make a difference to many.”

To hear from additional victims who know the issue firsthand, visit the new Fraud.org/FakeRx. The site also includes tips for consumers about ways to save on prescription drugs without increasing their risks of purchasing counterfeits. 

NCL thanks its partners for providing support for the new campaign: Allergan, Celgene, Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, Pfizer, and PhRMA.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

AAOA and National Consumers League Raise Awareness About Prescription Opioid Abuse Safety

October 16, 2019

Media contact: press@againstopioidabuse.org or National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Alexandria, VA—Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) and the National Consumers League (NCL) released a new suite of resources to help educate consumers about prescription opioid safety. The AAOA-NCL Consumer Toolkit provides materials to help reinforce the need for patients, caregivers, parents and others to understand their rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioid use.

Education plays a crucial role in helping consumers understand the importance of safely using, storing and disposing of prescription opioids,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, NCL. “We are pleased to partner with AAOA on this important set of resources, which will provide individuals with actionable steps that they can take to keep prescription opioids secure and prevent misuse and abuse of these medicines among family and friends.”  

The AAOA-NCL Consumer Toolkit addresses common questions that patients may have about their rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioids, and highlights facts about opioid medications to fill a knowledge gap and prevent misuse before it occurs. The toolkit includes the following resources:

AAOA has taken a leading role in sharing information and fostering communication between patients, consumers and the medical community to help reduce prescription opioid abuse,” said John Parker, Senior Vice President of Communications for the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the founding member of AAOA. “By leveraging NCL’s expertise, our goal is to communicate directly with consumers about the important role everyone has to play in ensuring the appropriate use, storage and disposal of prescription opioids.”  

In August, the AAOA-HealthyWomen Toolkit was released to help educate women, in their role as consumers and caregivers, about what they can do to prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids in the home. To learn more about AAOA’s resources, including a series of videos that raise awareness about prescription opioid safety, visit www.AgainstOpioidAbuse.org/Act.

For press inquiries, contact press@againstopioidabuse.org

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About Allied Against Opioid Abuse
Allied Against Opioid Abuse is a national education and awareness initiative to help prevent abuse and misuse of prescription opioids. Founded by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the initiative is a collaborative effort with diverse partners across the pharmaceutical supply chain, as well as organizations that are experts in public health and healthcare, including Alliance for Aging Research, American Pharmacists Association, American Physical Therapy Association, BeMedWise, Caregiver Action Network, Gerontological Society of America, Healthcare Leadership Council, HealthyWomen, Men’s Health Network, Mental Health America, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Consumers League, National Transitions of Care Coalition, Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, and the PA Foundation. Our goal is to contribute to solving the opioid crisis in a meaningful way by educating patients about their rights, risks and responsibilities. To learn more, visit www.AgainstOpioidAbuse.org or follow us on Twitter: @AAOA_Tweets.

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL statement on White House pathway for drug importation

August 2, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—As the nation’s pioneer consumer organization, the National Consumers League (NCL) strongly supports consumer access to safe, effective, and affordable prescription drugs. The recent announcement by the White House to open a pathway for importation of drugs from outside of the United States seems unworkable and poses safety and purity challenges. 

Six years ago, the U.S. government enacted a safe system to “track and trace” drugs sold to U.S. consumers through the Drug Supply Chain Security Act. The law required, that by 2023, all drugs sold to U.S. consumers must have both a product identifier and a unique package code to allow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and any buyer in the supply chain to obtain a comprehensive history of where the drug was manufactured and packaged. This secure supply chain system best ensures consumers are receiving medications that are not counterfeit or substandard.  

The recent announcement by the White House ignores the Drug Supply Chain Security Act and undermines the security of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive directorThis new pathway for importation could easily lead to counterfeit or substandard drugs finding their way to consumer’s medicine cabinets, thus putting patient health and safety at risk. 

In addition to the safety risks posed by this new policy announcement, there are no guarantees that it will save consumers money. The proposal opens the door for states, pharmacies, and distributors to obtain the medications outside of U.S. borders, but it does not require that any cost savings from obtaining those “lower-priced” medications be passed on to consumers. So, even if safety concerns could be addressed, it is not clear that there will be any direct cost savings benefit to consumers.  

The threat to public health is real. Counterfeit medications may contain the wrong active ingredient, the wrong amount of the active ingredient, no active ingredient, harmful ingredients, or even poisons such as mercury, road tar, or antifreeze. Counterfeit medications made with deadly ingredients have been found in more than 40 states across America, posing a significant public health threat. 

Allowing importation will only serve to exacerbate the challenge of preventing counterfeit drugs from reaching American patients,” said Greenberg. 

NCL continues to advocate for more responsible strategies to ensure the affordability and accessibility of safe and effective prescription drugs.  

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.