It’s the Risk

Published January 1, 2005

Illegal traffic in prescription drugs from foreign countries is now at an all-time high. What used to be smuggling in bulk shipments is now smuggling in millions of personal packages.

Meanwhile, politically motivated legislators are considering a law to make buying foreign drugs legal. They say imported drugs are almost the same as FDA-approved medicines and there is no evidence these drugs are dangerous.

Are they ignoring the risk to your health?

At mail facilities across the country FDA investigators are identifying drugs from unreliable sources from the Caribbean Islands to Pakistan:

  • From fake Internet sites in China selling impure drugs identified as being shipped by Canadian pharmacies.
  • From India shipped in Tupperware.
  • From Lebanon with drug warnings printed in Lebanese.
  • From one country to another country to hide their true source.

News sources in Oregon identified a woman with breast cancer who ordered tamoxifen from a Canadian pharmacy and became very ill–she was taking hypertension medicine labeled as her cancer treatment.

An FDA check on Wisconsin’s program recently found 35 percent of the foreign drugs coming into the state were unapproved for consumption.

Meanwhile, foreign governments and pharmacies assume no responsibility for the safety of the drugs or the consequences to your health.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.