I got an email from a friend this morning who's a transsexual woman who depends on Inhousepharmacy.com for her medication. This message appears on their site:
Important Notice to United States Shoppers
We regret to advise that this site is no longer able to supply to shoppers residing in the United States.
After recent action taken by LegitScript.com we have had to stop supplying customers within the USA. LegitScript.com is actively closing down hundreds of sites that operate from outside the United States. We have been targeted as we have operated for 13 years on a no prescription basis despite the fact that we meet the pharmacy laws of Vanuatu where we are based.
She described the importance of this particular online pharmacy in email:
I wonder if you're up to speed on a small something that seems banal but is actually of colossal importance: yesterday I got an email from the site inhousepharmacy.com announcing that they'd no longer ship to the USA because of a small organization that wants to eliminate online pharmacies. I don't doubt there are some that aren't reputable, and I know that there is lots of counterfeit drug trafficking in the world, but inhousepharmacy was an exception and very appreciated and utilized by the "community."
I've used their services for years, and I don't have anything bad to say about them. I'm not naive and I know that this closure is about nothing but money, to keep American citizens from buying their medications cheaper abroad.
I know that this will have dire consequences for a lot of trans people because, even without promoting self-medication, we shouldn't hide the fact that often it's the only solution for many, young or not, to start their treatment in secret or because they live in a "hostile" milieu, or for practical reasons, etc.
So is this a form of reprisal against transsexuals? I for one am already bothered that I have to see a doctor who'll cost $400, tell him everything about my life and give him a crash course in all the medications, because in general they don't know anything! Afterwards, of course, I'll have to pay a fortune at Walgreen that'll cost more than $80 a month and start the circus all over again a few times each year to renew the prescription.
Another banal fact: a few months ago Estraderm patches were taken off the market, which were the best treatment that exists. My friends and I have tried everything else, but other products are just garbage.
So my question: Is someone "in high places" planning a GENOCIDE OF TRANSSEXUALS?
[translated into English by me]
She mentioned in another email that once she had to pay $800 to get a prescription when she changed doctors because he didn't want to do anything without running a bunch of tests. Not every person who is transitioning or has transitioned has that kind of money.
And she's right to be concerned. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm guessing that what Inhousepharmacy was doing was not quite legal, but.... Well, I've never been one to be a stickler for the rules if the rules mean that some people go without basic needs. Rules that require others to make enormous sacrifices to protect the profits of the few are rules that operate outside of justice and we'd live in a better world if people just ignored them.
I'm also concerned because Inhousepharmacy supplies people with medication for all sorts of different problems, including HIV/AIDS drugs. How many seropositive people depended on that site to get their medications? We won't know since they aren't going to come forward, but those drugs can be expensive and qualifying for government aide for them is only getting more challenging as states eliminate funding for drugs.
They mention that they're being targeted by LegitScript.org, a third-party organization that seeks, according to their mission statement, verifies, monitors and enforces prescription drug law online for "the worlds [sic] leading government agencies and corporations." They use criminal and civil law to close down online pharmacies, target ISPs, and stress a few times on their site that they intend to protect intellectual property rights.
LegitScript also wears their partnership with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which opposes drug reimportation from Canada, a cheaper alternative to American medications that was discussed during health care reform but was rejected mainly because it would save the average American $800 a year, which would come directly from the pharmaceutical industry (crazily enough, the NABP decries Canadian drugs as "unsafe," even though they help license pharmacies in nine provinces).
While a drug company in Vanuatu may seem shady, LegitScript specifically marks as illegitimate Canadian pharmacies that sell to the US, which PharmacyChecker doesn't do (PharmacyChecker.com is a much more visited website that provides consumer information on online pharmacies). LegitScript goes to some propagandatastic length on their site to justify this (they found one drug company that was illegally using a Canadian pharmacy license!), blocking Canadian drug reimportation into the US has always been about one thing only: money.
In other words, Americans pay more for prescription drugs than everyone else in the world because we have a government that is beholden to big pharma, and LegitScript goes the extra mile that law enforcement can't/won't in order to ensure that Americans keep on getting looted.
To be clear, I'm not saying that there's no need for an independent verification of online pharmacies. That stuff can be dangerous and in a sane world there would be a government organization licensing online pharmacies so that people could get cheaper medication that they need to save their lives from businesses they know are safe.
But we don't live in a a sane country where the goal of prescription drug laws is solely saving lives and reducing suffering. I grew up in a pharma town with lots of pharmaceutical management and researchers' kids at my school. They're generally nice people, but the sheer number of them living the high life mainly because intellectual property law protects their employers' profits at the expense of people's lives was enough to impress on me that their usual cries about how drugs are expensive in the US because of research are just whining that they'll take their ball and go home if they're forced to compete in a free market the way other industries have to.
Drugs for transsexual people are in a unique position. It's not just the cost of the medications that make online pharmacies attractive, it's that doctors are often unknowledgeable of and hostile to transsexualism, that health care providers rarely cover these drugs, and the privacy that are important as well.
It's worrisome because American health care law is set up so that a certain number of people are left to die to keep the pressure up on the rest of us to keep on paying more for health care than anyone else in the world has to. Looking at the categories of drugs Inhousepharmacy was providing - heart, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma - and thinking that some of the people who were buying those drugs at that pharmacy are now going to have to go without... it should be unthinkable in a first world country.