For years, the FDA has defended its efforts to intercept prescription drugs coming from abroad by mail as necessary to keep out dangerous opioids, including fentanyl.
The pharmaceutical industry frequently cites such concerns in its battle to stymie numerous proposals in Washington to allow Americans to buy drugs from Canada and other countries where prices are almost always much lower.
But the agency's own data from recent years on its confiscation of packages containing drugs coming through international mail provides scant evidence that a significant number of opioids enters this way. In the two years for which KHN obtained data from the agency, only a tiny fraction of the drugs inspected contained opioids.
The overwhelming majority were uncontrolled prescription drugs that people had ordered, presumably because they can't afford the prices at home.