Monday, 19 August, 2019

Cheaper drugs: Trump wants USA states to import Canadian medicine

U.S. President Donald Trump Trump administration unveils plan to allow drug importation from Canada
Anna Jefferson | 01 August, 2019, 15:59

"For too long American patients have been paying exorbitantly high prices for prescription drugs that are made available to other countries at lower prices", Azar said in a statement that credited President Trump for pushing the idea.

The administration's proposal would allow states, wholesalers and pharmacists to get FDA approval to import certain medications from Canada that are also available in the U.S.

Azar added, "Today's announcement outlines the pathways the Administration intends to explore to allow safe importation of certain prescription drugs to lower prices and reduce out of pocket costs for American patients".

HHS Secretary Alex Azar claimed the plan was a pathway to ending "foreign freeloading".

He acknowledged that HHS and the Food and Drug Administration have consistently said there was no way importing drugs from Canada could be done without putting patients at risk for counterfeit drugs.

Drug pricing is an important election issue for Trump and also for Democrats, many of whom have said they would support importing medicines to lower USA drug prices.

This announcement marks the first step in the process. After the idea goes through regulatory review - which itself could take months, if not years - the Trump administration plan will only be a pilot, and there's little clarity on whether it'll ever be scaled up nationally.

Trump has appeared eager to tout a legislative victory in the lead up to the 2020 election, and polls have indicated a majority of voters across the political spectrum support a range of federal policies aimed at curbing prescription drug costs.

But HHS clearly put the burden on states and manufacturers to convince it that importing drugs would be safe for consumers and save them money.

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Eyeing his reelection campaign, Trump has made lowering prescription drug prices one of his top priorities.

It comes as the industry is facing a crescendo of consumer complaints over prices, as well as legislation from both parties in Congress to rein in costs, along with a sheaf of proposals from the Democratic presidential contenders. "They are being laid out, and they are surmountable", he said during a call with reporters.

The Trump administration opened the door Wednesday to the importation of drugs from Canada and other foreign markets, marking a historic step for federal regulators as President Trump's other drug-pricing ideas falter.

Reuters has previously reported that Canada opposes any US plans to buy Canadian prescription drugs that might threaten the country's drug supply or raise costs for its own citizens. He and presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have a bill to facilitate importation. Sen. For instance, he said, most Republicans in Congress oppose importation. "The key for me is whether this plan preserves the Food and Drug Administration's gold standard for safety and effectiveness".

Sanders also raised the subject of cheap Canadian drugs during Tuesday's first instalment of the two-night debate between Democratic hopefuls.

Mr. Trump's plan to force companies to disclose list prices in TV ads was blocked by a federal judge, and he recently withdrew a plan to pass drug rebates directly to Medicare recipients, fearing it would increase seniors' Part D premiums.

But consumer groups have strongly backed the idea, arguing that it will pressure USA drugmakers to reduce their prices.

Canadian health officials have expressed concerns about US importation, Azar said, but he added that it is up to states that want to start a program to work to overcome the obstacles, such as a lack of supply, Canadians foresee. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., noted the disparity in USA and Canadian prices, stating: "I took 15 people with diabetes from Detroit a few miles into Canada, and we bought insulin for one-tenth the price being charged by the crooks who run the pharmaceutical industry in America today".

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