Maine Pharmacist Mac McCall is Protecting Maine Patients

Maine Pharmacist Mac McCall is Protecting Maine Patients

04.15.14 | By Kaelan Hollon

Mac McCall photo“Mac,” as just about everyone in Portland knows him, is a pharmacist and pharmacy teacher deeply concerned about a dangerous new practice in which several companies appear to be selling non-FDA approved and potentially adulterated medicines to Maine patients. Fearful for his patients’ well-being, not long ago Mac ordered several medicines from companies that advertised in his local paper.  Those medicines were filled and sourced in India, Mauritius, and Turkey, before being routed into the hands of Maine’s patients – despite a new, and itself severely flawed Maine law dictating that imported medicines may only come from certain « Tier 1 » countries ; thus highlighting how unenforceable that new law really is.

With public safety in mind, Mac drew up a complaint with the Maine Board of Pharmacy about the practices he found that appeared to violate public health as well as Maine law. That hearing, which will happen in May, will examine whether an online “Canadian” company advertising the importation of prescription medicines (of course there is no real way to verify where these entities are located) have violated the law. It’s our view - and Mac’s - that patients' lives are in danger right now, and something must be done. Without any chance for patients to know where their medicine comes from, or a chance for the FDA to regulate medicine throughout the supply chain, laws like the one instituted in Maine put patients at risk for taking counterfeit or adulterated medicines.  Make no mistake: patients’ lives are at stake in Maine.

Mac is a co-plaintiff of ours in an important piece of litigation in Maine, in which PhRMA, alongside Maine Pharmacy Association, the Maine Retailers, and other pharmacists, allege that a recent law – LD 171 -- allowing for the importation of prescription medications from certain licensed pharmacies in several countries by Maine residents, violates federal law. Of course, nothing in this new law is truly “legal,” in that federal law prohibits most avenues for importing prescription medications from abroad.  And for good reason, as countless news articles have highlighted the dangers of ordering prescription medications from fly-by-night websites offering to save consumers money.  And we believe Maine cannot simply ignore federal law when passing their own statutes.  More importantly, Mac’s efforts have highlighted how flawed LD 171 is in the first place.  He ordered medicines from an online pharmacy advertising in Maine papers and when he received the medicines it was clear that they were not sourced in a manner compliant with even the Maine law.

As new pharmacy graduates complete their residency and are granted their license, they are obliged to take an oath avowing that they will uphold and protect the public health. Quoted below, the ‘Pharmacists’ Oath’ is a promise made by every pharmacist upon accepting their license, and affirms that:

"I promise to devote myself to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy. In fulfilling this vow:

I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns.

I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients.

I will respect and protect all personal and health information entrusted to me.

I will accept the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence.

I will hold myself and my colleagues to the highest principles of our professions moral, ethical and legal conduct.

I will embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care.

I will utilize my knowledge, skills, experiences, and values to prepare the next generation of pharmacists.

I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.”

When Kenneth “Mac” McCall took his pharmacists’ oath, he meant it. He's doing the right thing on behalf of the patients who rely on him to keep them safe, and I'm proud to call him a co-plaintiff and friend. We’re excited about our case in Maine, and hope we can spread the word to Maine patients to be safe: protecting the public's health is too important to be taken lightly. ​

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