Recently, The Hill featured the Op-Ed, A tale of two drug bills — one proposed bill will worsen the drug prices crisis, by Gabriel Levitt, President of Prescription Justice. Mr. Levitt’s Op-Ed provides an insightful look at legislation targeting two distinct public health problems, but only one has the capacity to inflict further devastation from the public health crisis that is high drug prices.
The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act of 2017 (STOP Act), introduced by Sen. Rob Portman (R- OH) aims to stop the flow of the highly addictive synthetic opioid fentanyl from coming into the U.S. by requiring the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to obtain information about packages coming from foreign sources. Unlike private carriers such as UPS and FedEx, the USPS does not currently require advanced electronic customs data from much of the mail received at its International Mail centers.
Increasingly more of the fatalities from opioid overdose are caused by extremely potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl. It is an epidemic that has already taken too many lives. However, as Mr. Levitt points out, the STOP Act, if passed in its current form, would endanger the lives of millions of Americans who rely on personal drug importation for their medications because of skyrocketing drug prices in the U.S. In its attempt to curtail the illegal trafficking of fentanyl through the USPS, the STOP Act would ensnare not just illicit drugs coming into the U.S., but safe and affordable medications as well – ending the lifeline of affordable medications for millions.
As the price of prescription drugs continue to skyrocket in the U.S., tens of millions of Americans are having to forgo taking their prescribed medications because they can’t afford them. The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, introduced by Senator Sanders (I-VT), would make it lawful to import lower cost medications from Canada, and eventually other countries.
While the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Act would expand access to safe, lower cost medications, it would also prohibit importation of controlled drugs, including synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Prescription Justice stands firmly with the majority of Americans who clearly support safe importation from Canada and has formed a coalition of supporters for swift passage of the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Act.