On May 1, the Maine Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously to instruct the State Attorney General to issue a cease and desist letter to, and launch a formal investigation of, Canada Drug Center, an internet pharmacy that has allegedly been selling drugs in contravention of Maine Law. While a Maine Law that went into effect in November 2013 allows Maine residents to fill their prescriptions with pharmacies based in certain international jurisdictions, Canada Drug Center sources drugs from unapproved countries.
Maine Public Law 373, “An Act to facilitate the Licensing of International Mail Order Prescription Pharmacies by the Main Board of Pharmacy,” was implemented in the hopes that purchasing medications from abroad will help individuals save money. The law allows the direct purchase of mail-order prescription drugs from Canada, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. The prescription drugs imported under the law must be for the individual’s personal use.
The law has been opposed by various industry groups in the United States, such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (“PhRMA”), the Maine Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the Retail Association of Maine. These industry groups have expressed concerns about the danger of importing international pharmaceuticals and the fact that importing pharmaceuticals contravenes federal laws, including the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”). These groups have filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the law, which is still pending as of April 1, 2014.1
The president of the Maine Pharmacy Association, Kenneth McCall, filed a separate complaint with the Maine Board of Pharmacy in January 2014, alleging that Canada Drug Center sold him drugs manufactured in Turkey, India, and Mauritius, in contravention of the law. McCall ordered medication from Canada Drug Center, which began advertising in Maine as soon as the new drug importation law went into effect. Upon receipt of the medications, McCall saw that they were sent directly from India, Turkey, and Mauritius – none of which are on the allowable country list of the new law.
The Maine Board of Pharmacy, which previously sent a Statement of Concern to Maine’s Governor LePage to express its concerns about the Act, has determined that Canada Drug Center was practicing without a license and has directed the Attorney General’s office to send a cease-and-desist letter to the company. The Board has also directed the Attorney General to launch a formal investigation of the actions of Canadadrugcenter.com.