A large share of medication that is imported by Americans for personal use from Canada and many other countries is ordered on the Internet. It’s not a secret that the pharmaceutical industry, U.S. chain pharmacies and the U.S Food and Drug Administration are not happy about it. But what they are doing about it is less well-known and even less well-understood. An important article published by Jeremy Malcolm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation last week called “How Big Pharma’s Shadow Regulation Censors the Internet” brings the situation into clear view. Multinational pharmaceutical companies and the FDA are funding non-profit groups, global initiatives, or private companies, ones that all work with each other, to make it harder, and may make it impossible, for Americans to buy medications online for personal import.
The ‘censorship’ about which Mr. Malcolm writes is subtle but no less real than more overt censorship. The censors essentially would like all international online pharmacies that sell to consumers in the U.S. to be shutdown. For the millions of Americans who can’t or struggle to afford medication, those websites are a lifeline and that censorship, if successful, would end it.