Valisure is a U.S. online pharmacy that actually tests the quality of medication it sends to patients and apparently, to my delight, they support drug importation as a policy to lower costs. Pretty cool.
When people go online or to their local Walgreens to buy prescription drugs domestically, they are largely relying on the regulatory strength of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make sure those drugs will work as directed by their prescribers. While the FDA is known as a top drug regulator, for all intents and purposes, Valisure is saying that you can’t fully trust them. Why? Because they don’t do adequate testing to prove safety and effectiveness of drugs. Furthermore, the agency’s position that FDA-approved generic drugs work just as well as the brand is often not true.
I can’t stop thinking about Trump’s so-called “Most Favored Nation” executive order on drug prices. I know that’s kind of sad considering I’m on vacation.
Keeping it short, when Trump announced his four executive orders on drug prices at the end of July, one of them seemed to be touted as the nuclear option. Spewing the rhetoric Americans want to hear about how he is standing up to Big Pharma, Trump announced that they would get the lowest price on drugs in Medicare:
“We will determine what other medically advanced nations pay for the most expensive drugs, and instead of paying the highest price, Medicare will pay the lowest price and so will lots of other U.S. buyers.”
Somewhere along the line, that order, which oddly was the only one of four that was not made public, was referred to as Most Favored Nation (MFN). MFN is one of the core concepts of international trade agreements. It means that countries party to the agreement get the same low tariffs and other benefits as the others: better terms than those who are not party to the agreement.
Originally published on PharmacyChecker.com.
Three executive orders were signed by President Donald Trump last week. One of them is all about drug importation: measures already underway and new actions to help Americans buy more affordable prescription drugs from other countries. It has the potential to help many millions of Americans who are sick and tired of high drug prices or can’t even afford the medications prescribed to them.
The executive order states that the “Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to expand safe access to lower-cost imported prescription drugs by…”
Stopping right there, before listing the stated actions, you should know that it’s not accidental that the executive order uses the word “expand” when referring to safe access to lower-cost, imported prescription drugs.
Originally Published as A Blueprint to Understand Executive Authority on Allowing Safe Personal Drug Importation on PrescriptionJustice.org.
Yesterday, President Trump announced four executive orders with the stated intent of substantially lowering drug prices. Briefly, the administration’s bluster on drug prices over the past three years has been far louder than any actions taken to actually do something about it. Better late than never.
The orders call for and include: 1) Lower prices on EpiPens and insulin, 2) Allowing personal drug importation, 3) Ending profit-taking by pharmacy benefit manager middlemen, and 4) “most favored nation” drug price negotiation in Medicare, meaning Medicare would get the lowest price on drugs of any country.
Last week, yet another state, New Hampshire hopped on the Canadian drug importation bandwagon. Joining Vermont, Florida, Colorado, Maine and New Mexico, New Hampshire passed a law that would permit registered wholesale pharmacies to import lower-cost drugs from registered Canadian wholesale pharmacies. I have supported the initiative from the beginning, when the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) came out with model legislation on drug importation from Canada. But now, frankly, I am annoyed. New wholesale drug imports from Canada can be helpful, but the issue seems to be used for political purposes. State legislators and governors, by passing Canadian drug importation laws, can say they are doing something, but nothing is actually happening.
One of the best opposing arguments surrounding these laws is that Canada is too small a country to take on large wholesale prescription drug exports to the U.S. With more and more states getting onboard with importation, the problem of Canada’s size becomes more salient. Expanding importation to the European Union is the key and yet this new state legislation, as well as federal law, does not address that.
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that about 2.3 million people in the U.S. import medicine each year to save money. According to that same study, Hispanics in the U.S. are almost four times more likely to have imported medicine than non-Hispanic white people. I believe the percentage of Hispanic people is so much higher due to four main factors.
The first two factors are quantitative findings:
First, in 2018, almost 18% of Hispanics did not have health insurance, compared to only 5.4% of White and 9.3% of Black people. The JAMA study found that people who were uninsured were over three times more likely to import medicine than the insured.
Two, the JAMA study found that 4.4% of immigrants imported medicines for personal use, 3.2 times more than the average consumer. According to Pew Research, about 21% of Hispanics living in the U.S. are not American citizens, and 44% of all immigrants report Hispanic or Latino backgrounds.