Consumer Protection Act: A Consumer Reports Magazine poll found that about half of Americans would be upset by any ban on online purchases of “stupid” drugs.
The law, introduced by Sens.
Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts, would bar Americans from buying “strawberry-flavored pills,” for example, unless they’re “reasonably certain” that the pills are not poisonous or “will harm someone else.”
It also would ban people from buying or selling “unnatural” or “irresponsible” drugs, such as “potentisone,” “a substance with no active ingredient that is believed to cause birth defects or death,” or “medicine containing ingredients known to cause serious allergic reactions or death.”
The proposal comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in March that it would not approve the sale of the popular generic version of a painkiller that critics say is a precursor to fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid that has recently been linked to an uptick in fatal overdoses across the United States.
In a letter sent to Congress last week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned that the FDA is “considering a regulatory proposal to prohibit the sale and distribution of fentanyl and related opioids in the United [States].”
Warren and Capuanao’s legislation would ban “any and all drugs that are sold for prescription and non-prescription purposes, such that the drug is prescribed for a condition, such use or condition, and that is not medically indicated for a medical purpose,” while Brown’s bill would bar people from making online purchases from anyone who sells a product “that is not reasonably certain” the drug was not intended for a specific purpose.
In addition to Warren and Caputano’s legislation, a bill from Sens.
Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and John Thune, R-S.D., was introduced last week that would prevent doctors and other medical professionals from “advertising” prescription drugs, even when the drug contains no active ingredients.
The legislation would also block federal grants from being used for marketing or selling drugs, and require manufacturers to disclose to consumers what ingredients are in a drug.
A similar bill from Sen. Bill Nelson, D of Florida, has been introduced to the Senate floor but has yet to receive a vote.
In an interview on Fox News, Capuono said his bill would not be “tough on anyone who’s selling stupid drugs.”
He said he is “pretty happy” with the FDA’s response to fentanyl in recent years, though he added that “there’s a difference between a dangerous drug and a dangerous thing.”