Dear Representative Lofgren,
Let me open this message by thanking you and your colleagues in the House and Senate for advancing #OPEN, a courageous and necessary alternative to the dangerous overreach of SOPA and PIPA. Although I am not member of your district, I found your action with respect to this issue — and some of my concerns with the text of #OPEN — compelling enough to write to you.
I would like to bring to your attention some language in the proposed text of #OPEN which is of personal concern to me. Part (k) of the proposed Section 337A amendment to the 1930 Tariff Act provides immunity to financial institutions who discriminate against “sites that endanger public health”, defined in paragraph (3)(B) as sites dispensing medication without a valid prescription.
I do not believe that this language belongs in a bill concerned with intellectual property. It is unnecessary to make moral judgements against sites distributing generic, unpatented, and unscheduled medication. My own story may have some relevance here. I have been uninsured for the last nine months, since losing my employment due to health-related issues. In that time, I have been unable to afford access to either conventional pharmacies or to doctors who can prescribe the medication I need. Online pharmacies have been a vital resource in meeting my medical needs during this period. Without that tool, the expense of obtaining my medication would have been crippling.
I do understand the contentious nature of online pharmacies, and I appreciate the need for the government to regulate their activity — especially as it pertains to IP concerns such as the unlicensed sale of medications protected by American patent law. However, in the case of generic, unpatented, and unscheduled medication, online pharmacies provide a vital service to many of us who are underserved by the American medical system.
I urge you to strike the language of subsection (k) from the proposed text of #OPEN, and submit legislation that takes an unjaundiced eye toward the online sale of generic medication.
My sincerest thanks for your attention,
April Farago Monteith