AUSTIN (KXAN) — Former FBI director Louis Freeh says America’s opiod crisis will get worse and counterfeit medications would increase if lawmakers pass a proposal to allow prescription drugs to be imported from Canada.
Some lawmakers at the federal and state level have argued the move to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada would save consumers money from rising drug costs, but Freeh argues lawmakers are misrepresenting the issue.
“A lot of it is on the policial basis that we will bring in drugs from Canada and it will be cheaper — and therefore people will save money and everything will be fine.”
The problem with this is that Canada doesn’t manufacture any pharmaceuticals and all the medicines are being made overseas — in some countries where you can’t drink the water, under conditions that are completely unregulated and unsupervised.
“And they tranship the products through Canada,” said Freeh in an interview with KXAN News morning anchor Sally Hernandez ahead of his presentation to Florida lawmakers on the controversial topic.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced his commitment to create a prescription drug importation program for Florida.
The program would offer access to FDA-approved prescription drugs that have been imported from Canada, allowing the drugs to be sold to Floridians at a much lower cost, according to his press office.
Freeh was the fifth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from September 1993 to June 2001, appointed by President Bill Clinton. He is now a lawyer and consultant in the private sector and compiled a report in 2017 after interviewing current and former FBI, DEA and FDA officials on the current state of counterfeit drugs and says enforcement is already lacking.
“It’s a crisis. Medicines that are fabricated overseas, under unregulated, unsupervised conditions are flooding into the United States. A lot are avilable on the internet. The ones that are coming into the country are overwhelming our Customs and Border Patrol. The FDA commissioner recently said he would need 4,500 brand new officers just to start identifying the importation of these counterfeit medicines.”
The former FBI director argues Americans deserve to pay less for pharmaceuticals but not he says at the cost of their own safety.
“Again, many people thinking “I can pay less for a drug because it’s coming from Canada”, but if you go one layer underneath that you find the drugs are not being made in Canada. They could be made in somebody’s garage in Asia that is also fabricating fentanyl.”
The Trump Administration would need to approve the importation of prescription drugs from other countries. Recently, several states including Colorado, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Oklahoma have all pushed for such legislation.
In 2005, then-Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a law that required the Texas State Board of Pharmacy to inspect and authorize Canadian pharmacies to import prescription medications into Texas.
But Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott ruled that violated federal law shortly after.