Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and causes inflammation. An estimated 3.5 million Americans are living with hepatitis C, with about half unaware they even have it. Recent advancements in hepatitis C treatments have greatly improved. New medications can lead to a cure in about 90 percent of people. But the prices for such treatments are prohibiting access and that means more people will remain sick and sometimes die. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2014, hepatitis C related deaths reached an all-time high of 19,659, killing more Americans each year than all other infectious diseases combined, including HIV.
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.
Prescription Justice Action Group (PJAG), a new non-profit organization, is here to help bring justice to American consumers who are literally sick from the high cost of prescription medication. New federal regulations and other actions by the government and pharmaceutical industry, particularly toward online pharmacies, threaten access to safe and affordable imported medication. PJAG recently formed to coordinate a response to these developments and to advocate for policies to bring down drug prices here at home.