Dr. Richard Dillihunt’s letter (“Let’s battle Big Pharma to bring back imports of cheaper drugs,” March 12) nicely exposed the price gouging on drugs sold in the U.S., drugs that are sold for far less elsewhere.

Missing was the Food and Drug Administration’s complicity in enabling the inequity. You need only go to their website to see it.

Specific to Canada, the FDA states: “If a drug is approved by Health Canada (FDA’s counterpart in Canada) but has not been approved by FDA, it is an unapproved drug in the United States and, therefore, illegal to import.”

The FDA has no authority to approve drugs sold in Canada, so it can never give FDA approval to those drugs. Effectively, the FDA is saying they have no idea what drugs sold in Canada contain, and, incredibly, they have no idea how to find that out. It’s as if Canada is North Korea.

The FDA goes on to write that it “typically does not object to personal imports of drugs that FDA has not approved under certain circumstances.”

They lists five conditions under which they wouldn’t object, including: the drug does not represent an unreasonable risk; it’s prescribed for one’s own use; and no more than a three-month supply is imported. All of these would apply to drugs purchased in the U.S.

Which brings us to the remaining two: The drug must be for a serious condition for which effective treatment is not available in the U.S.; and, the coup de grace, “there is no commercialization or promotion of the drug to U.S. residents.”

With these last two points, the FDA morphs into the Federal Trade Commission, except that the FDA is against open trade and is harming consumers. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry can rest easy knowing that the FDA has their back.

James O’Connor

South Portland