Are (Legally) Imported Prescription Drugs a Thing of the Future: Maine Thinks So

Maine has passed a law that takes effect today which permits the direct purchase of prescription drugs from certain foreign pharmacies. More specifically, the law exempts foreign pharmaceutical vendors from state pharmaceutical licensing laws. The law, which is noted to be the first of its kind, has come under attack from the pharmaceutical industry. Drug makers argue that consumer safety will be lost if the purchase of drugs from foreign pharmacies is allowed and that FDA oversight is impinged upon by the new law. The FDA prohibits importing prescription drugs but rarely enforces the ban on consumers, according to a Wall Street Journal article on this topic

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America along with pharmacy groups in Maine are challenging the law in federal court. The case, filed in the District Court in Maine (No. 1:13-cv-00347) is sure to make its way through the court system. The first order of business for the Maine District Court is to determine whether to preliminarily enjoin the law from going into effect, as the plaintiffs request. The import of this case to industry, the FDA and consumers very likely means that it will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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