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Maine Passes Law Allowing People to Order Prescriptions from Canada

Update Date: Jun 28, 2013 05:29 PM EDT

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works to protect consumers and patients by approving drugs that the agency has deemed safe. Despite the efforts of reviewing new drugs as well as old ones, patients continue to look for other means of acquiring their medications due to the high costs of drugs in this country. Instead of getting medications the old sneaky way from foreign countries, the state of Maine has passed a law that allows residents to mail order their prescriptions from other nations where the costs for the same or similar drugs are a lot lower.

As of June 13 and June 14, after the GOP Governor Paul LePage did not sign or veto the law, it was automatically passed by the Maine House and Senate. The law, "An Act to Facilitate the Personal Importation of Prescription Drugs from International Mail Order Prescription Pharmacies," is now in effect. The law contradicts a ruling last year that concluded that CanaRX, a prescription mail order company could not operate because it was not and could not be licensed as a pharmacy in Maine. CanaRX was serving both private and public customers within the state since 2004. This new bill will allow the company to start its services once again.

"Research from the Commonwealth Fund has shown that 50 million Americans are not getting needed medication due to high price of medications at U.S. pharmacies," Gabriel Levitt said from the only pharmacy finder website, Pharmacychecker.com. "The State of Maine has resoundingly declared that this state of affairs is unacceptable."

Although Maine has provided its residents with a cheaper alternative of getting prescription drugs, the FDA is not convinced that this method will help patients in the end. The FDA has constantly warned people from taking and buying foreign drugs due to the fear of counterfeit or adulterated drugs that could end up posing more harm than good.

"Medicine bought from foreign sources, such as from Internet sellers, from businesses that offer to buy foreign medicine for you, or during trips outside the United States, may not be safe or effective," an FDA spokesman said according to NPR. "These medicines are illegal and may present health risks, and FDA cannot ensure the safety, efficacy and quality of medicine from these sources. FDA cannot help consumers who have problems with medicine obtained from outside U.S. regulation and oversight."

The FDA is not the only opponents of this law.

"Opening out borders to unapproved imported drugs could increase the flow of counterfeit drugs into the U.S.," Matt Bennett, the vice president of communications for PhRMA, said. "[This law is] putting patients at senseless risk and with little recourse against their injuries."

Despite the opposition to Maine's law allowing patients to purchase drugs via mail, the state hopes that this new law could help ease the financial strain for patients. 

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