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Domestic Generic Drugs More Cost Effective Than Imports

Article reviews international pharmaceutical market

TUESDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- The most cost-effective way for U.S. consumers to obtain prescription drugs is not from international markets, but by appropriate purchase of domestic generic drugs, posits an article published in the April 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Aaron S. Kesselheim, M.D., and Niteesh K. Choudhry, M.D., Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, review the issues surrounding importation of prescription drugs and outline key risks and benefits of foreign medications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration generally allows individuals to import a limited (90-day) supply of approved medications from foreign countries, but policymakers are pursuing changes in legislation allowing the expanded importation of prescription drugs. Key issues to be addressed include ensuring the quality of imported drugs, which is particularly problematic when drugs come from low- and middle-income nations without well-developed drug regulatory systems. Additionally, the fact that large-scale importation may diminish long-term cost savings needs to be considered prior to the enactment of legislation.

"It may be reasonable for individual U.S. consumers to purchase essential medicines from certain international markets, but the most effective way to decrease drug costs overall is the appropriate use of domestic generic drugs, which are available for almost every major therapeutic class," the authors conclude.

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