By Mary Bono
January 10, 2024
The FDA recently approved Florida’s proposal to import drugs from Canada despite concerns over safety and available supply in Canada. In the middle of a heated presidential campaign, perhaps the political calculations outweigh evidence that importing drugs from Canada, or anywhere else for that matter, is the silver bullet that will immediately bring down the price of prescription drugs.
Federal law states that drug importation can only be allowed if there is “no additional risk” to safety and will “result in a significant reduction” in the cost of drugs. By any reasonable measure, Florida’s plan fails on both counts.
At least 24 U.S. Republican senators and nine conservative organizations have spoken out against importation. These voices understand that importation would drastically undermine patient safety by opening the floodgates to counterfeit drugs, which is estimated to be between a $200 billion and $432 billion a year industry globally.
This isn’t theoretical. The chorus of pro-importation voices are already undermining safety. According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, nearly three-quarters of the online pharmacies that claim to be Canadian actually source their medications from outside of Canada where regulations are even less stringent. All the while some trumpet the benefits of Canadian prescription drugs, criminal enterprises have taken advantage by marketing counterfeit drugs online as “Canadian” to unsuspecting consumers.
Importation would make this trend far worse by potentially legitimizing fake drugs. In our current secure supply chain system, the FDA is able to effectively monitor and track the movement of medicines and root out fraud. Thanks to their supervision, it is far more difficult for counterfeit drugs to infiltrate licensed U.S. pharmacies and existing cases largely take place outside legitimate channels. Importation would put the stamp of approval on less regulated or entirely unregulated sources from all across the world as long as they at one point make their way through Canada. That should be a pretty terrifying thought for consumers.
In recent years, the fentanyl crisis has shown the destructive impact that counterfeit drugs can inflict on communities. As fentanyl overdoses continue to climb at alarming rates, these preventable deaths are increasingly caused by ingestion of counterfeit pills. Stories of accidental overdoses have become far too common as a result of counterfeit drugs. It should go without saying that policymakers shouldn’t do anything to make them more ubiquitous.
To add insult to injury, undermining the safety of our supply chain and trust in our healthcare system would come with little to no cost benefit to patients. Past FDA analyses have found that many American generics are already cheaper than Canadian generic drugs. And, Canada’s existing drug supply is only enough for its much smaller population, representing only 2% of global pharmaceutical consumption as opposed to 44% for the United States. Canadian officials have made it clear that they have no intention of letting this limited supply be shipped to the United States should there be any threat of shortages.
As of now, eight other states have submitted or are pursuing similar plans as Florida. All of them are based on the same false assumptions. As there is no federal law in place, the federal government cannot open the door to a complicated patchwork of 50 different state importation programs. Though these states are right to be concerned about the cost of medicines, importation presents a potentially dangerous and counterproductive approach.
There are ways to address the cost of medicines, particularly for those most vulnerable. However, misleading Americans about the impact on prices and potentially compromising patient safety by importing drugs of untraceable origins shouldn’t be one of them.
The Honorable Mary Bono is the Chairwoman of Communities United for Smart Policy and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives for California.
A Colorado overdose death has been linked to a new formulation of nitazenes, a class of powerful opioid analgesics being increasingly seen in the illicit drug market.
Nitazenes have been around for decades, experts told CBS News, and have been seen in multiple formulations. The person who died in Colorado had used a formulation called N-Desethyl etonitazene. The man died in mid-2023, Denver officials said, but laboratory testing about the substance he overdosed on was not returned until recently.
It's believed to be the first time that formulation was found in an overdose death, according to the Boulder County Coroner's office.
The coroner told CBS News that while Denver has seen a decrease in fentanyl overdoses, use of nitazenes has emerged — which "raises new concerns."
What are nitazenes?
Nitazenes were first developed in the 1950s and early 1960s, said Claire Zagorski, a chemist, paramedic and translational scientist in Austin, Texas. At the time, they weren't illicit drugs, but were intended to be sold commercially. That never happened, Zagorski said, and in recent years, those original formulations have been used as a backbone by illicit drug manufacturers to make new synthetic opioids amid a crackdown on substances like fentanyl.
"Having a conversation with young people about opioids is something many parents are reluctant to have. People think it’s going to happen to somebody else, to somebody else’s family, to somebody else’s kids,” Hon. Mary Bono
Palm Springs, Desert Sands, and Coachella Valley Unified School Districts have all added new ways to educate students on the dangers of Fentanyl poisoning. Also new this year, the medication Narcan, used to reduce opioid overdose is now on every campus.
June 2022 - MAPDA held our 2nd annual Humanitarian Lunch in Washington DC, honoring Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV) and Congressman Dave Joyce (OH). The event sold out and the attendees enjoyed a mix of great conversation and inspirational speeches. We were pleased to have attendees from our partner-organizations, CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) and SAFE Project (Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic). Among the topics of discussion was when our Chairman, Mary Bono, explained why we give crystal hearts to our honorees - that our founder, Janet Janes, once said if she could simply "pour out her heart" to other parents to prevent the pain she experienced from losing a child to an accidental opioid overdose, she would. Hence, we literally hand over our hearts. Our Chairman further explained that she knew well how many times both of our honorees had experienced a similar conversation with a constituent, and that we hope the MAPDA crystal heart reminds them of the important work the do everyday. MAPDA congratulates our very well deserving honorees!
June 2022 - MAPDA donated $5000 to the Durango CORE Program, a co-response program. The team responds to behavioral health crises, like mental health and substance abuse, including accidental overdoses. The CORE Program has already made an impact since launching in February. Photographed are the CORE Team, Police Cheif Bob Brammer and our Executive Director, Christal Dye.
Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE: EBS) today announced that it is teaming up with the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, and Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA) to highlight the importance of potentially lifesaving overdose reversal medicines on International Overdose Awareness Day 2020.
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on August 31 each year that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. Emergent, in collaboration with these teams and MAPDA, will address the importance of accessing overdose reversal medicines through special announcements, videos, and stadium presentations.
“Emergent is committed to doing everything we can to increase awareness, access, and availability of potentially lifesaving overdose reversal medicines,” said Doug White, SVP and devices business unit head at Emergent BioSolutions. “We are proud to team up with the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, and MAPDA on International Overdose Awareness Day to highlight the important role that overdose reversal medicines play in preparing individuals and families in the event of an accidental opioid overdose. Everyone can take a stand and take action by talking to their doctor or pharmacists about having immediate access to overdose reversal medicines.”
“By increasing awareness about the importance of having immediate access to overdose reversal medicines, we may empower individuals to be prepared in the event of an opioid overdose emergency,” said Mary Bono, former U.S. Congresswoman and chairman and CEO of MAPDA. “MAPDA is honored to stand alongside Emergent, the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, and Philadelphia Phillies, to help more individuals know about and access potentially lifesaving medicines to treat opioid overdoses.”
For more information, visit: www.cutoutoverdoses.com.
The Coachella Valley, a known vacation hot spot with a lot to offer including nearly year-round sunshine, top-notch entertainment, and sporting events. But, there is a darker side. Right now, Riverside County Sheriff's Investigators say increased fentanyl use has dealt the valley a deadly 2023. Between January and April of this year, there have been 57 fentanyl-related deaths in the Coachella Valley. That's more than any other area in the county.
Washington, D.C., October 21, 2019 --- Kentucky congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, who has spearheaded congressional efforts to battle the scourge of opioid addiction, will be honored in Washington Oct. 23 by Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA). The non-profit, chaired by his former House GOP colleague Mary Bono, was founded by mothers who have lost children to the opioid epidemic, which has struck Rogers’s native Kentucky with devastating force.
“Hal was the first in Congress to recognize the threat to our country, our communities and our families,” Bono says. “His leadership is second to none when it comes to addressing the opioid epidemic.”
Rogers, now in his 20th term and the longest serving Kentucky Republican ever elected to federal office, has been at the forefront of the opioid battle since the early 2000s, long before many in Congress realized there even was a crisis. Last year, opioids killed an average 130 people a day nationally. In Kentucky, while the death toll remains devastating – 1,247 overdose deaths last year – fatalities declined 15%.
Rogers’ enormous contribution to this long-running battle will be recognized Oct. 23 at MAPDA’s 1st Annual Humanitarian Award Luncheon.
Among his accomplishments:
In 2001, he helped establish a federal grant program to provide money to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, now in 49 states, which help doctors and pharmacists spot and prevent prescription drug abuse.
In 2003, he launched Operation UNITE, an initiative in southern and eastern Kentucky that empowers citizen groups and community leaders to battle drug abuse at every level. The organization takes a holistic approach, focusing on law enforcement, treatment and education, which is now a national model to combat the epidemic. UNITE’s life-saving activities include financial aid for low-income residents to get long-term treatment and youth programs that partner with schools to protect and educate children. Today, the annual Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, which Rogers and Operation UNITE initiated in 2012, continues to draw top advocates, researchers and policy makers from across the country to work on the best strategies to combat this epidemic.
In 2010, Rogers and then-Rep. Bono, R-Calif., launched the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse to bring together like-minded lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, to seek multi-pronged solutions.
And for years Rogers has championed laws that have provided billions to battle the epidemic through prevention, treatment, enforcement and research.
Rogers will be the first recipient of MAPDA’s Humanitarian Award. Proceeds from the event will be used to award scholarships to recovering students to vocational schools and community colleges.
The award luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 23, at Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave. NW, in Washington. Leidos, a Fortune 500 science and technology leader, has been a leader in fighting the opioid epidemic and is the Legacy sponsor of this event. Other sponsors for the event include Recovery Centers of America, Verde Technologies, Forbes Tate, CADCA, Battelle, Emergent BioSolutions, OB-C Group, and Faegre Baker Daniels. Proceeds from the award lunch will fund more vocational and community college scholarships across the country.
Mary joined Angela Kennecke on her podcast to discuss comprehensive solutions to the opioid and fentanyl overdose epidemic.
For anyone who suffers from opioid addiction, particularly those struggling to recover, the grueling isolation required by stay-at-home orders, along with job losses, financial fears and anxiety over COVID-19, add up to a potential prescription for relapse.
Mother's Against Prescription Drug Abuse gave their first humanitarian award to Rogers at a luncheon in Washington. The congressman helped launch the congressional caucus on prescription drug abuse, bringing together lawmakers to secure funding and improve laws to tackle addiction issues.
Because of its disproportionate impact on young lives, the opioid epidemic cost our country almost 1.7 million years of lost life in 2016 alone. It is taking a huge toll on our children, and it’s our job to keep it from doing the same to the next generation.
This dire situation demands action. Now is the time to “double down” in the fight against this epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999 and continue to be the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. Between 2014 through 2015alone, increases in prescription drug overdoses in 19 states were considered statistically significant, and all but nine states have seen increases in overdose deaths.
A heartbroken mother whose son died of a heroin overdose is hoping a Valentine's Day letter about him to President Trump will "warm" his heart and urge the federal government to do more about the crisis. Sue Kruczek, whose son, Nick, died when he was 20 years old, plans to send the letter to the president Saturday, hoping it makes it to his desk by the holiday.
Mary Bono served as a U.S. Congresswoman from California from 1998-2013, where she co-founded the Congressional Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Caucus with Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky. In her current role as co-convener of the "Collaborative for Effective Opioid Policies," she works to engage diverse stakeholders behind a comprehensive policy strategy to reduce prescription opioid abuse and promote treatment options.
Governors met to discuss the best methods to combat the problem of prescription drug abuse. Guest speakers included former Representative Mary Bono (R-CA), co-founder of the Congressional Csucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, who said the current debate surrounding the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana was clouding anti-drug messages targeted toward young people.
This Year’s Hope for Addiction Scholarship Winner Would Literally Give the Shirt Off His Back
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., April 12, 2022 – Recovery Centers of America (RCA) and MAPDA continue to support furthering education to treat those battling substance use disorder (SUD) by today announcing three outstanding winners of this year’s Hope for Addiction Scholarships. Three students recovering from addiction or affected by the addiction epidemic will each receive $1000 to pursue degrees that will assist individuals and families struggling with SUD. This year’s winners are from Kansas, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Applicants from all over the country participated in this year’s scholarship contest.
The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act would:
Authorize the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to
provide $10 million annually to support educational programs for students
and student athletes, as well as training for teachers, administrators, athletic
trainers, coaches, athletic directors, and others specifically targeted at
strategies for preventing the misuse of opioids and other substances
commonly used in pain management or injury recovery.
Allow for related programs at the youth, community, high school, and
Require a report on the effectiveness of programs, periodic evaluations, as
well as a plan for the dissemination of information to grantees. April, 2022.
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Congressman who has led various federal initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic, will be honored in Washington, D.C., by Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA) with the organization’s first Humanitarian Award.
The Danger in America's Medicine Cabinets: Recovery Centers of America and Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse Announce New Partnership to End Prescription Drug Abuse.