Is it illegal to import prescription medication into the United States?

The answer may surprise you, but no. Under many circumstances, it is expressly legal to import FDA-approved drugs. Eighty percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (meaning the main drug) used to make the medications sold in American pharmacies are imported. Forty percent of the prescription medications you buy at your local pharmacies are imported as well. However, it is likely to be technically illegal for YOU to import a medication for personal use, as discussed in the next section.

Is it always illegal for you to import medication for your own use?

The FDA says that under most circumstances it’s illegal to import medication for personal use. That’s because only “FDA-approved” drugs can be lawfully imported (the ones eventually sold in U.S. pharmacies). Most medications imported for personal use that will come from a foreign pharmacy will not meet the definition of FDA-approved drug – EVEN IF IT’S THE SAME MEDICATION.

If it's usually illegal then how can I get my drug back?

In consultation with lawyers who are experts in prescription drug importation laws, we have devised arguments that may help you get your medication back. For instance, by providing certain evidence, such as having a prescription and a copy of the U.S. label of the drug, you may be able to bring your imported drug into compliance with FDA regulations. Or you may be able to convince the FDA to release your medication because you know that it’s a lawfully manufactured drug for which you have a prescription and you cannot afford it at your local pharmacy. Remember, unless it’s a counterfeit or otherwise bad drug, taking your real, prescribed medication away is unethical, at cross purposes with the FDA’s mission, and bad for your health.

Will I get into legal trouble for importing prescription medicine for my own use?

Will I get into trouble with the FDA by submitting testimony?

No. It’s your legal right to do so.

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