By Jerry Hace

There have been few constants in Western New York since 1876. However, the Gooding Co. has been in Lockport since our country’s centennial, proudly printing quality paper products used across various industries. In fact, we are the oldest continuously operating printing business in our community and Niagara County.

For the last 13 years, our strongest business sector has been printing pharmaceutical package inserts on which patients, pharmacists and physicians rely for vital information about their medications. Though there have been many challenges in our industry, nothing has threatened it like a proposal before Congress to eliminate these paper inserts and instead opt for the Internet as the sole source for these essential instructions.

Sadly, this provision is part of an otherwise needed bill to reduce counterfeit medication, the Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act. Seemingly without warning or much debate, the House of Representatives passed this legislation, and the unintended consequences of scrapping paper package inserts could be severe.

Quite often many of us go for weeks without power, much less access to the Internet, a point driven home by recent natural disasters ranging from Hurricane Sandy to the Oklahoma tornadoes and the wildfires in the West. Keeping paper pharmaceutical inserts is the only way to ensure professionals have reliable and dependable health care information.

A recent Government Accountability Office report determined there is no consensus among experts about the advantages of an exclusively electronic drug information system, and any benefits gained could be offset by possible adverse effects on public health. Why is such a controversial – and potentially dangerous – provision needed now?

At the Gooding Co., pharmaceutical package inserts account for approximately half of our business and the more than 40 jobs we support; I worry what would happen to our company should this provision become law.

Fortunately, electronic drug labeling is included only in the House version of the aforementioned bill. I am very grateful that Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Brian Higgins have pledged to oppose any efforts to eliminate these printed instructions, and am hopeful that the balance of our New York delegation will stand united in support of keeping printed pharmaceutical inserts the standard across the country.

A printed pharmaceutical package insert is essential for providing patients, doctors and pharmacists with reliable information about their health care decisions. Eliminating these printed materials would have severe unintended consequences – for our medical system and a 137-year-old company proud to call Western New York home.

Jerry Hace is the president of Gooding Co., a specialty printer in Lockport.