Maine sued by Big Pharma because it won’t stop foreign drug imports

By George Chidi
Saturday, November 9, 2013 22:06 EDT
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Pharmacy pills Maine
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The pharmacies suing Maine to keep people from importing Canadian mail-order drugs carefully avoid using the word “profits” in their lawsuit. Big Pharma notes that some of its members have been injured, but no specific claim of damage is made.

Instead the complaint argues that Maine’s new law explicitly authorizing pharmacies in Canada to export to Maine businesses and residents violates the U.S. constitution and federal law, and skirts domestic medicine regulations, “circumventing the carefully-constructed closed federal regulatory structure governing prescription drugs and thus posing serious health risks to consumers.”

The plaintiffs — Maine pharmacists Charles Ouellette and Amelia Arnold, the Maine Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Retail Association of Maine, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA — want to stop Maine’s new Importation Law, which won approval in June and took effect in October. The law allows licensed retail pharmacies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom to export prescription medicines by mail to Maine residents for personal use.

Maine’s response argues that the state has no obligation to regulate pharmacies there if it chooses not to. “Maine is free to choose not to regulate the conduct of pharmacies located in other countries – even if those pharmacies may engage in conduct that violates the FDCA,” Maine’s attorney general Janet Mills answered in filings defending the law in federal court.

Watch a PBS report on Maine’s pharmaceutical issues below.

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