- The Washington Times - Friday, August 13, 2004

When it comes to personal safety, D.C. residents already have plenty to worry about. Caught between errant bullets and terrorist bombs, they should not also have to fear tainted medicines. Yet that is the consequence of the D.C. government’s deplorable decision to post on its Web site both a guide for and a link to procuring prescription drugs from Canada.

The site also links to a company called Minnesota RxConnect, through which residents can actually buy them. By clicking into it, one can purchase everything from Prozac to Quinine.

The District government has not been minding its P’s and Q’s, as its posting of the link proves. Earlier this year, the FDA sent a letter to Minnesota officials warning them about being guides to “a path used not only by profiteers masquerading as pharmacists, but by outright criminals.”

Council member David Catania deserves the blame for guiding D.C. residents down this dangerous path for having proposed the link. He dismissed the FDA’s concerns, declaring that the agency is “acting as the muscle of the domestic pharmaceutical industry.”

Hardly. Non-FDA certified medicines could explode in residents’ faces. As William Hubbard, FDA associate commissioner for policy and planning, said, “We can’t get any assurances to the U.S. patients that they’re getting a good drug.” There are any number of hazards, including the possibility that the drugs might be something entirely different from the label on the vial.

Besides, as the D.C. government recognized, the link is illegal. On the site there is a notice stating that U.S. residents inside the United States are not permitted to purchase pharmaceuticals from outside the country. But it gives the practice a wink and a nod by adding, “… the law is currently not being enforced.”

Instead of demanding that the site be taken down, a spokesman for Mayor Anthony Williams ducked. He claimed, “We’re not advocating for people to do this. We’re telling them that it’s available.” That excuse should not be acceptable.

By posting the link and guidance, the D.C. government is encouraging residents to engage in illegal and likely harmful behavior. The D.C. government should take down the Web site and stop promoting the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.

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