Re-import Prescription Drugs?

Buying prescription drugs in other countries and reimportation seems to be mostly a tricky sleight of hand that only benefits the end user. Do we really believe that putting drugs in a shipping container, shipping them off to some other country and then bringing them back somehow magically reduce its cost? Many foreign markets threaten to confiscate the drug company's patents as extortion to force the companies to sell at lower prices. The company has patents to protect their investment in research and development. If a generic company can 'steal' the patented formula because another country invalidates a patent, then the generic company can produce and sell a drug for dirt cheap while avoiding the cost of R&D. And since many of the world's governments have gone the socialized medicine route, the US is one of the lonely protectors of patent protection that fuels private investment into R&D.

And then there is the question of safety. Are those cheap-o knock offs whipped up in outer Slobovia going to be up to the FDA standards? Are concerns about purity and safety legitimate? BTW, do all those protections enforced by the FDA drive up costs in the US?

What about all the hand wringing over outsourcing? Where is all the concern for American jobs and a 'living wage' from the let's-buy-foreign-drugs crowd? Keeping these jobs here and charging high prices certainly must help the 'living wage' situation, right? But apparently that's not so great for low prices. There is no free lunch.

And as one of the richest countries on the planet, shouldn't we feel good that we, the global 1%'ers, are carrying the load and helping out our global brothers and sisters? Isn't the world justified in pointing their finger of judgment towards us and telling us we are not paying our fair share? Is this just a global tax of our obscene wealth? Aren't higher prices for us just a progressive payment structure that allows those less fortunate than us to share in the pharmaceutical bounty? Just spreading the wealth around a bit? Can we say that those who are trying to get out of their prescription drug fair share hate the world's poor?

The same crowd that condemns Walmart's evil importation offshore goods in order to lower costs seems to have no problem with the Walmart-ization of medicine. Providing goods at lower costs that allows the poor to enjoy a much higher cost of living is moral outrage when Walmart does it, but when the reimport drugs crowd proposes a similar model for prescription drugs, in order to do an end run around pharmaceutical companies and their high domestic costs, it is a moral necessity.

I guess it all depends on who's wallet is being gored. Or whose vote you are looking for.

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