Drug Importation Crisis: Terror Politics to the Rescue! OpEd by John Mack

Osama on the Border The FDA just played the “terrorist trump card” in its battle against the legalization of the reimportation of drugs. Acting U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Lester Crawford suggested that “a source of continuing concern” is that terrorists might tamper with prescription drugs imported from Canada.

Crawford’s remarks may strike some as politically motivated and Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for the Homeland Security Department responded to Crawford’s remarks by saying “While we must assume that such a threat exists generally, we have no specific information now about any al-Qaida threats to our food or drug supply.”

FDA also claims that drugs from Canada may be unsafe because they may be counterfeit, cheap foreign copies of FDA-approved drugs, expired, contaminated or stored under inappropriate and un-safe conditions. These arguments have some merit and point out we have a lot more to fear from unscrupulous profiteers than from terrorists when it comes to the safety of our drug supplies.

Reimportation is a growing and real concern for the pharmaceutical industry-in 2002, the American people imported about $1.1 Billion worth of drugs from Canada. To add to the industry’s woes, Congress is considering several bills that seek to make drug importation from Canada legal. There is a chance that one of these bills will be passed, if not in this session of Congress, then perhaps the next (see article, “Congress Fiddles While Reimportation Issue Burns”).

Let’s not try to win every policy argument by bringing terrorism into the equation. I think it undermines our vigilance against real terror threats. Remember the moral of Aesop’s fable about the little shepherd boy: There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.

Vol. 3, No.8: September 2004
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