Patricia Pinto’s recent Maine Voices op-ed (May 15) arguing that “importing Canadian drugs will help Mainers stay healthy” downplays the dangers of foreign drug manufacturers and undermines the safety and security of public health.

While U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers do import ingredients from overseas, Ms. Pinto failed to mention that the Food and Drug Administration inspects U.S. manufacturing facilities and that the agency has the authority to randomly inspect these facilities. The FDA does not have jurisdiction in any other country. Further, Canada does not have the same safety and security standards or the FDA-approved systems in place to ensure our patients are protected the way we do here in the United States.

It’s misleading to assume that, as Ms. Pinto states, “If L.D. 1272 passes, it will be easier for Mainers to save on FDA-approved prescription drugs.” FDA approval of a drug simply means that the agency has reviewed the drug’s effects and that the overall benefits of the drug outweigh its known and potential risks. To be clear, the FDA cannot and does not ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs that it has not approved.

Patients need to pause and realize a very clear admission from the Canadian government that while it regulates medicines manufactured for its own citizens, it cannot be expected to ensure the safety of drugs shipped through Canada. That means the drugs we think are made in Canada actually may not originate there – but come from other countries without rigorous regulatory controls and safety protections.

When it comes to prescription drugs, the protection of patients is paramount. Our legislators should stand up for the protections we’ve put in place, not undermine them by flooding the market with questionable medications.

Robyn M. Boerstling

vice president, infrastructure, innovation and human resources policy,
National Association of Manufacturers

Washington, D.C.

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