WASHINGTONA second Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS),
Tommy G. Thompson, has refused to allow the reimporting of US-made prescription
drugs back into the country. Former HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala made the
same determination last December.
Under the Medicine Equity and Drug Safety (MEDS) Act, signed into law last
year, US-made prescription drugs exported to certain foreign nations could be
reimported for sale to US consumers. US medications sell for less abroad, and
the law’s intent was that reimported drugs would be sold at below normal
MEDS included a provision that required the HHS Secretary to determine that,
if reimportation occurred, the United States could maintain adequate safety and
prices could be expected to be reduced. Mr. Thompson found that would not be
"Opening our borders as required under this program would increase the
likelihood that the shelves of pharmacies across the nation would include
counterfeit drugs, cheap foreign copies of FDA-approved drugs, expired drugs,
contaminated drugs, and drugs stored under inappropriate and unsafe
conditions," the Secretary said in a letter to Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt).