Medical Tourism with HCV

Note: Consult with your doctor, and a lawyer before you accidentally commit a felony.

I keep seeing blogs and comments in forums explaining anecdotally how they did it and why it’s good.

It’s not good, it may save someone’s life, but that does not make it good. Because in bypassing our system, more will die from lack of adequate care.

Don’t suggest medical tourism as a solution. It’s like saying, yeah we don’t have running water in our town, so we just take buckets back when we visit friends in other towns.

In the United States we presently have around 71 million people ( that’s about twice the population of Canada) on Medicaid.1 Four states will effectively deny new DAAs (Direct Acting Antivirals like Sovaldi) to over a hundred thousand HCV patients until they prove they have F4 cirrhosis. In fact, Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) is restricted to decompensated patients for around 5.7 million people on Medicaid. In other words, you need to have both permanent liver damage, and be fatally ill to get the new meds.

Medical tourism with HCV in the United States has a problem. Importing prescriptions is punishable by up to 10 years and $250,000.

US Code: Title 21, §333.Penalties:

“(b) Prescription drug marketing violations
(1) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, any person who violates section 331(t) of this title by-
(A) knowingly importing a drug in violation of section 381(d)(1) of this title,
(B) knowingly selling, purchasing, or trading a drug or drug sample or knowingly offering to sell, purchase, or trade a drug or drug sample, in violation of section 353(c)(1) of this title, … shall be imprisoned for not more than 10 years or fined not more than $250,000, or both.”2

There is no 90 day supply, there is no personal use exemption.

Legality aside, there are 130-180 Million people with HCV worldwide. Every country is combating this illness. When HCV infected persons coming in from a developed country they disrupt the medical care environment of the developing country or LDC (formerly third world) and can price HCV patients in that country out of the market.

Perhaps the water analogy was not precise enough. Its more like saying, yeah we don’t have running water in our town, so we just take full buckets back when we visit less well off towns because they sell buckets of water cheaper there.

By encouraging medical tourism for HCV, we are disenfranchising the visited country’s citizens from HCV cures and perpetuating our own prohibitively expensive system.

This is an epidemic. Be Informed, and Fight right.

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