Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987

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The Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987 (PDMA) was signed into law on April 22, 1988. It establishes legal safeguards for prescription drug distribution to ensure safe and effective pharmaceuticals. It’s designed to discourage the sale of counterfeit, adulterated, misbranded, subpotent, and expired prescription drugs. It was passed in response to the development of a wholesale sub-market (known as the “diversion market”) for prescription drugs.

The Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987 prohibits the re-importation of a drug into the United States by anyone except the manufacturer. This has become a major political and economic issue as many seniors travel across the border or receive their prescriptions through the mail at presumed substantial savings, especially from Canada. Pharmaceutical manufacturers have threatened to reduce the supply of drugs to Canada if the practice of illegal re-importation continues. Canada is concerned that re-importation may create a shortage of medications for its own citizens. The United States has elected not to enforce the private contraband of individuals but clearly discourages its practice.

The act also prohibits the sale or trading of drug samples, the distribution of samples to persons other than those licensed to prescribe them, and the distribution of samples except by mail or by common carrier. This action was taken in response to prescription drug samples being illegally diverted and distributed by a few unethical pharmaceutical sales representatives.




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