Originally published September 22 2013
Big Pharma suing Maine to force drug monopoly on residents, block importation from Canada
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Big Pharma wants to keep its monopoly in the state of Maine, so drug companies are going to court.
The state recently passed legislation that makes it easier for residents to buy prescription drugs from Canada. Only, the U.S. pharma industry doesn't want the competition; the suit alleges that buying drugs from Canada somehow violates the U.S. Constitution.
According to Courthouse News Service:
The industry claims Maine's "Importation Law," approved in June and set to take effect Oct. 9, poses "serious health risks to consumers" and violates the Foreign Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause. The plaintiffs scrupulously avoid the word "profits" in the 27-page federal lawsuit.
Foreign drugs not the problem - 'it's the monopoly, stupid'
The lead plaintiff is Charles Ouellette, the owner-operator of a pharmacy in Fort Kent. Joining him as plaintiffs are the Maine Pharmacy Association, the Maine Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Retail Association of Maine, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Amelia Arnold, a pharmacist in Augusta.
The suit, filed against Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and the state's Commissioner of Administrative & Financial Services, says: "The State of Maine has enacted a law ('the importation law') that expressly authorizes foreign pharmaceutical vendors to exports prescription drugs into the United States, circumventing the carefully-constructed closed federal regulatory structure governing prescription drugs and thus posing serious health risks to consumers. This attempt to circumvent federal law is no accident: Maine's importation law was enacted with the avowed purpose of opening the state's borders to foreign pharmacies, after previous iterations of drug importation programs operating in the state ended in the wake of the state attorney general's declaration of their illegality."
Continuing, the suit alleges that prescription drugs brought into the state via "foreign pharmacies pursuant to the importation law are not subject to any of the quality and safety controls put in place by the federal government in order to protect persons who rely on prescription medications. The importation law therefore puts Maine residents at risk of serious harm."
Further, the plaintiffs allege that the law "conflicts with the considered judgment of the federal government concerning the importation of foreign drugs, poses an obstacle to the federal government's ability to achieve the goals of its prescription drug regulatory regime, and is an invalid attempt at legislating in a field totally occupied by the federal government."
In addition, plaintiffs say the law amounts to "an encroachment" by the state of the federal government's "exclusive power to regulate foreign commerce." Big Pharma loves the Constitution, you see, when it suits the industry.
In addition to claiming that the law violates the Constitution, the plaintiffs also cite federal Food and Drug Administration warnings against the importation of medications from outside the country - to include even Canada. That's because those companies are not subject to the same laws as U.S. medications, the plaintiffs claim.
"The FDA has expressed particular concerns about CanaRx, a Canadian mail-order pharmacy, regarding its illegal importation of pharmaceuticals," the suit says.
Law merely an effort to break Big Pharma's expensive exclusivity
In citing a statement an FDA official made to the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation, the groups say: "(T)he FDA has concluded CanaRx's illegal shipments of prescription drugs into the U.S. 'expos[es] U.S. consumers to risky imported drug products' and that '[t]his potential risk is compounded by the fact that CanaRx makes misleading assurances to consumers about the safety of its drugs.' ... The agency also avers that it 'has evidence demonstrating that CanaRx shipped insulin, a product that should be stored under refrigeration, in a manner that did not satisfy the storage conditions specified in FDA approved labeling, and which could potentially compromise the safety and effectiveness of the insulin.'"
The fact is that Big Pharma will do anything it can to monopolize their markets by taking away Americans' choice to purchase similar medications at cheaper prices.
The attorney general's office said the new law merely clarifies existing regulations.
"The new state law addresses the problem raised by the letter of former AG Bill Schneider to Joe Bruno and other members of the Pharmacy Board a year ago, saying that an agency would need to be licensed under the then existing state law," the Maine AG's office said in a statement. "The new law simply removes the state licensing requirement. The law is permissive not restrictive. There is nothing in this act which violates any other laws and we believe that there are no grounds for the court to enjoin the law."
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