I am writing concerning the May 18 letter (“Drug importation lacks protections for patients“) in which Robyn M. Boerstling responded to an op-ed in support of L.D. 1272, a bill that will establish a safe and effective program of wholesale importation for lower-cost drugs.

This program follows the model I wrote working with the Portland-based National Academy for State Health Policy. The program must be approved by the secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

Let’s be clear. Maine’s program can be approved by the federal government only if the state’s system demonstrates safety on par with the national system and if the program system will generate savings. Once approved by the health and human services secretary, the drugs will be Food and Drug Administration-approved and labeled for the U.S. market. If it’s not safe, it won’t happen.

Currently, at least 40 percent of FDA-approved prescription drugs come from outside the U.S. Today’s drug industry is global: manufacturing around the world in FDA-registered facilities and international distribution systems that meet FDA standards. A Maine importation program would rely on the systems that already exist, which already ensure consumer safety. A Maine importation program would simply create price competition here in the U.S., which is much needed as more and more Mainers struggle with high prescription drug costs.

Jane Horvath

Horvath Health Policy

College Park, Md.

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