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Do doctors have a responsibility to help patients import medicines from abroad?
  1. Narcyz Ghinea
  1. Philosophy Department, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Narcyz Ghinea, Philosophy Department, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia; narcyz.ghinea{at}mq.edu.au

Abstract

Almost any medicine can be purchased online from abroad. Many high-income countries permit individuals to import medicines for their personal use. However, those who import medicines face the risk of purchasing poor-quality products that may not work, or that may even harm them. Many people are willing to accept this risk for the opportunity to purchase more affordable medicines. This is especially true of individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds who already struggle to afford the medicines they need if they are not subsidised by insurers or if copayments are high. As medicine prices and out-of-pocket healthcare spending continue to climb, the online marketplace provides an important alternative for individuals in high-income countries to source medicines. In this article, I argue that doctors have a responsibility to help patients access medicines online and I propose a framework that can be used to facilitate responsible personal importation.

  • ethics- medical
  • human rights
  • quality of health care
  • right to health
  • drug industry

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Footnotes

  • Contributors NG is responsible for the conceptualisation, analysis and writing of this manuscript and is guarantor of the overall content.

  • Funding This work is supported by a Macquarie University Research Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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