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Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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There are few people more supportive than I am of prescription drug importation as one policy to help Americans access lower drug prices. But, since I accuse Big Pharma types and the FDA of ignoring reality about the safety of personal drug imports from licensed pharmacies in Canada and other countries, I won’t ignore reality! Canada is concerned about momentum on drug importation coming from the Trump administration and states, particularly Florida, citing its relatively small population and limited drug supplies. The answer is not to pull back on importation, but to expand the scope of countries in the supply network. 

As reported in Reuters earlier this week, the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. stated that she is “sympathetic to U.S. concerns regarding affordable prescription drugs.” On the other hand, she said, “Not only are we too small of a market, Canada cannot increase its domestic pharmaceutical drug supply to meet U.S. demand…” It’s not incredibly cynical of me to suggest that drug company lobbyists, who work internationally, have spoken with Canadian diplomats and said, “Look, we’re not going to increase your supply of far less expensive medicine just so Florida’s state importation plan can work and Trump can get a political win.” 

In related news, after the Ambassador’s remarks, Florida announced that it’s moving ahead with an “invitation to negotiate” as it seeks to hire a contractor to run its drug importation program. Almost concurrently, the Trump administration’s FDA has provided the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) its proposed rule for imports from Canada (Pathway 1), and other countries (Pathway 2): see The proposed rule is not yet public. 

Maybe Florida and the Trump administration didn’t get “the memo” from Canada.

Come on, people, the world is a big place. Canada is not the only country from which to import less expensive medicine. The European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan, etc., combined, are not too small. Pharma will say, maybe, but the law only permits imports of lower-cost drugs from Canada. Really? If HHS/FDA can declare – as they did in Pathway II of their Safe Drug Importation Action Plan –  that drug companies can import their own lower-cost foreign versions of FDA-approved drugs from any country in the world without a change in the law, there’s no reason why hospitals and pharmacies can’t import those same lower-cost drugs from wholesalers in the EU and Japan.  

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