Unaffordable Drug Prices Drive Americans To Purchase Medicine Outside The United States
For the past few years, drug prices have been spiraling upward at a rapid pace, leaving Americans with no other choice, but to have their prescription drugs imported from foreign countries. Most individuals, who have partaken in the illegal activity, immediately defend their action. It is not unusual to see a price difference of $100 or more, providing consumers with a 50 to 75 percent saving. Of course, the act is illegal, but most people are willing to take their chances, just to get the medicine needed to maintain or restore their health.
Americans purchase prescription drugs online or while traveling abroad. According to a survey led by Kaiser Family Foundation, with 1,202 participants between the ages of 20 to 80, 8 percent of respondents said they or another household member had imported a drug at some point. When you compare this percentage with the Census Bureau population estimates, the figure translates around 19 million adults.
A clinical pharmacist, Andrew Zullo, said even the proportion found in the poll may be low. “People are uncomfortable talking about the cost of their own health care, and they don’t want to admit they are struggling to pay for their own meds,” he said. Some may also be reluctant to reveal they’ve broken the law.”
According to a 2011 survey conducted by the U.S. government, the percentage was much less at around 2 percent. A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jaime Ruiz, said, “The Internet has made it easier for Americans to buy prescription drugs abroad, frequently from disreputable sources.”
In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cracked down on online pharmacies, confiscating packages of medicines that had been purportedly imported from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. When the packages were opened, it was discovered that the drugs were actually from other countries, Laos, China and India.
Even though many of the medicines purchased internationally are the same as those purchased in the United States, some of the imported drugs could be expired, inferior or counterfeits.
This is an illegal practice, but the U.S. government does not rigorously enforce the law, because many of the drugs are being concealed in suitcases or small bags and transported across the border by the individual buying them. The FDA implemented a rule that would allow border inspectors to destroy imported drugs in 2015.
Many people have admitted that they will continue to purchase drugs internationally, because they cannot afford to pay the prices that U.S. pharmacies are charging.