Friday, April 09, 2004

More on drugs: Reimportation.

Chuck Grassley can be a royal pain sometimes, but this time the Republican Senator from Iowa, may have done something useful. Yesterday, he introduced S. 2307, a bill entitled, "Reliable Entry for Medicines at Everyday Discounts through Importation with Effective Safeguards Act of 2004." I thought this title confirmed that weird bill names have hit an all-time high (or low) until I read his press release on this and saw the bill title's acronym: REMEDIES. Cute. The printed bill hasn't made it to Thomas yet, but you should be able to click here in a couple of days and get it. Meanwhile, AHLA has a copy on their web site. Here's Grassley's description of the key provisions:

    Overview of Key Elements of the REMEDIES Act of 2004

Legalizes reimportation (or importation) of prescription drugs from FDA approved exporters. To be approved, registered exporters must agree to meet safety requirements and to permit FDA inspectors on their premises full time to ensure compliance.

Creates a "fast-track" regulatory process for FDA to implement the importation system quickly.

Importation of qualified prescription drugs from Canada is immediately legalized while the new importation system is developed and implemented by FDA.

Under the new system, individuals, pharmacies, and drug wholesalers are permitted to legally import prescription drugs from registered foreign exporters:
o Individuals may order drugs from a registered exporter pursuant to a valid prescription issued by a U.S. doctor and filled by a pharmacist whose licensing requirements are equivalent to those required in the U.S. or by a dispensing pharmacist duly licensed by a state.
o Commercial shipments are permitted only to licensed pharmacists for resale directly to consumers and by drug wholesalers who can sell to pharmacies as they do today.
Drugs imported to U.S. pharmacies and drug wholesalers must be FDA approved drugs produced in the United States or in FDA inspected manufacturing facilities in other counties. FDA is required to provide the proper labeling for drugs for importation.

The FDA through its inspectors is responsible for tracing all drugs exported to the US back to their original manufacturing plant and ensuring that they have been stored and transported safely from that plant.

Individuals may also purchase drugs that are bioequivalent to FDA-approved brand name drugs that are produced by the same brand-name manufacturer.
o These drugs are drugs not technically approved by the FDA but the foreign government has approved the drug and that drug has the same active ingredient or ingredients as the FDA-approved drug and the same route of administration, dosage form, and strength.
o If a drug manufacturer believes, however, that the non-FDA approved drug is not bioequivalent to the FDA approved drug, then it must submit a petition to the FDA to show that (a) the differences result in a product that is not bioequivalent to the drug approved in the U.S., and (b) that such differences are due to scientifically and legally valid differences in the regulatory requirements of the U.S. and the country(ies) in which the apparently similar drug is marketed. The manufacturer is required to pay a user fee sufficient to cover the cost of the FDA's review of the petition and supporting documentation.
A User Fee charged to registered exporters provides the financing to provide the resources to FDA to ensure the safety of imported drugs.
o User fees charged to registered exporters would be sufficient to cover all costs including those incurred for inspection and verification within the United States, at the exporter's premises and any other location where the drugs have been stored prior to entry into the U.S.
o The FDA would be required to verify the source and inspect the intermediate handlers of all drugs intended for export into the United States.
o FDA would also be required to determine by a statistically significant sample that the recipients held valid prescriptions (individuals ordering 90-day supply or less) or verify that recipient was a licensed pharmacy that only dispensed drugs to individuals.

The FDA would also be required to supply valid U.S. labeling upon request of the registered exporter and affix or supervise the affixing of seals, markings or tracking technology that would inform border personnel that such imports were lawful to be entered as labeled.

Drugs not permitted for importation include controlled substances and certain other drugs not appropriate for importation because of storage, significant safety concerns, or drugs that are more likely to be counterfeited.

Provisions to Protect Safety of the Public:

Unauthorized imports would be treated as contraband and would be seized and destroyed upon entry without notice.

For the first two years, importation would be limited to Canada. The Department of Health and Human Services would submit a report to Congress in the second year, and unless Congress changed the law, countries from which importation is permitted would be expanded to include, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Other countries meeting statutory criteria could also be added to the list by the Secretary.

The legislation continues to prohibit the import or reimport of drugs supplied free or at nominal cost to charitable or humanitarian organizations including the United Nations or a government of a foreign country.

Requires pedigrees from the manufacturer to the dispensing pharmacist for all prescription drugs sold within the U.S. or to an exporter authorized to export drugs into the U.S.

Requires the automatic suspension of an exporter's registration for any attempted entry of non-qualified or unsafe drugs with restricted ability to seek re-instatement in the future.

Requires that registered exporters submit to the jurisdiction of the U.S. federal court system and provides a mechanism for civil actions against the property of persons that import non-qualified drugs.

Repeals the provision in the Controlled Substances Act that permits the personal import of scheduled drugs, which is a significant source of illegal drug trade in the U.S. Tax Incentives for Manufacturers to Facilitate Reimportation

Incentive To Not Prevent Reimportation: Manufacturers that do not take any action, directly or indirectly, to prevent reimportation receive a 20% increase in R&D tax credit for that year.

Penalty For Preventing Reimportation: Manufacturers that take any action, directly or indirectly, to prevent authorized reimportation lose the business expense deduction for advertising expenses.
posted by Tom Mayo, 1:43 PM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter