Elizabeth, who is from California, periodically gets migraine headaches. To treat them, she is prescribed brand name Relpax (elitriptan), but finds that the drug is too expensive in the U.S., so she chooses to import the same drug at a much lower price. Despite federal restrictions, most medicines that are imported for personal use reach the patient. But not always. In Elizabeth’s case, instead of receiving her medication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) destroyed the medication after it was detained at an international mail facility (IMF). She gave Prescription Justice the green light to tell her story.
Founder of Prescription Justice, Gabriel Levitt, submitted a public comment to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the role of personal importation and online access to safe and affordable medicine in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All is a joint initiative led by twelve global health and development organizations under the auspices of the WHO.
Earlier this week, Prescription Justice founder Gabriel Levitt published an article in The Nation entitled, “Is the FDA Misleading Congress About the Safety of Imported Medicines?”. While we advocate for policies and legislative reforms to bring down drug prices here in the U.S., the article highlights the fact that personal prescription drug importation is already a lifeline for millions of Americans who can’t afford their medications here.
“Pursuant to the evidence and reasons given above, I believe my testimony overcomes the FDA’s public health justifications for refusing my medication order and ask that you release it to me. If you don’t then my health may be jeopardized because I can’t afford it locally.” Letter from a patient to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whose arthritis medicine was detained, and subject to refusal by the FDA. Each year, a few million Americans import lower cost medicines because the prices are lower, despite the federal restrictions. Most such orders are received, at least when patients have valid prescriptions, but the FDA has the authority to refuse and destroy them.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was awarded a 5-Star rating from Prescription Justice for her full support of the Prescription Justice Policy Platform. These are commonsense and necessary policies to lower drug prices here at home and expand access to lower cost medication from pharmacies in other countries.