Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
US to Set up Plan Allowing Prescription Meds From Canada
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 5 years ago on
July 31, 2019

Share

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said Wednesday it will create a way for Americans to legally and safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada for the first time, reversing years of refusals by health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medications.

“The landscape and the opportunities for safe linkage between drug supply chains has changed. That is part of why, for the first time in HHS’s history, we are open to importation.” — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar
The move is a step toward fulfilling a 2016 campaign promise by President Donald Trump, and it weakens an import ban that has stood as a symbol of the political clout of the pharmaceutical industry. It’s unclear how soon consumers will see benefits, as the plan has to go through time-consuming regulatory approval and later could face court challenges from drugmakers.
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. Ahead of the 2020 election, Trump is feeling pressure to deliver on years of harsh rhetoric about the pharmaceutical industry.
Making the announcement Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the administration’s decision recognizes that prescription drug manufacturing and distribution is now international.
“The landscape and the opportunities for safe linkage between drug supply chains has changed,” Azar said. “That is part of why, for the first time in HHS’s history, we are open to importation. We want to see proposals from states, distributors, and pharmacies that can help accomplish our shared goal of safe prescription drugs at lower prices.”
Stephen Ubl, president of the industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America called the plan “far too dangerous” for American patients. “There is no way to guarantee the safety of drugs that come into the country from outside the United States’ gold-standard supply chain,” Ubl said in a statement. “Drugs coming through Canada could have originated from anywhere in the world.”

Unclear How Soon Consumers Will See Results

Most patients take affordable generic drugs to manage conditions such as high blood pressure or elevated blood sugars. But polls show concern about the prices of breakthrough medications for intractable illnesses like cancer or hepatitis C infection, whose annual costs can run to $100,000 or much more. And long-available drugs like insulin have seen serial price increases that forced some people with diabetes to ration their own doses.
Azar, a former drug company executive, said U.S. patients will be able to import medications safely and effectively, with oversight from the Food and Drug Administration. Azar used to be a skeptic of importation, and was once quoted dismissing it as a gimmick.
One prong of the administration’s proposal would allow states, wholesalers and pharmacists to get FDA approval to import certain medications that are also available here. Trump had recently endorsed a new Florida law to allow importation.
Another part of the plan would allow drugmakers to seek approval for re-importation of their own drugs. This second provision would cover cutting-edge biologic drugs as well mainstays like insulin, and it could apply drugs from other countries besides Canada.
It’s unclear how soon consumers will see results. Azar spoke of a regulatory process lasting “weeks and months” and he also called on Congress to pass legislation that would lend its muscle to the effort, which could short-circuit attempts to overturn the changes in court.
“The FDA has the resources to do this,” said acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless. “The agency is interested in considering any reasonable proposal that maintains the bedrock of safety and efficacy for the American consumer.”

 

Lowering Drug Costs a Topic in Presidential Debate

Importation has backers across the political spectrum.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the panel that oversees Medicare said on Twitter it would lower prescription drug costs. He and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have a bill to facilitate importation. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the health committee, welcomed the plan but said the key is whether importation can be done safely.

The leading drug industry trade group, known as PhRMA, is a powerhouse that generally gets its way with lawmakers. But pressure on the industry is rising across many fronts.
During Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, multiple candidates talked about the need to lower drug costs. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Independent, noted the disparity in U.S. and Canadian prices. “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,” he said.
The leading drug industry trade group, known as PhRMA, is a powerhouse that generally gets its way with lawmakers. It spent $128 million on lobbying in 2017, according to its most recent tax filings. But pressure on the industry is rising across many fronts.
In the Senate, Trump is supporting Grassley’s bipartisan bill to cap medication costs for Medicare recipients and require drugmakers to pay rebates to the program if price hikes exceed inflation. Democrats in the House are pressing for a vote on a bill allowing Medicare to directly negotiate prices on behalf of millions of seniors enrolled in its prescription drug plan. Separately, the Trump administration is pursuing a regulation that would tie what Medicare pays for drugs administered in doctors’ offices to lower international prices.

DON'T MISS

California’s Democratic Leaders Clash With Businesses Over Curbing Retail Theft. Here’s What to Know

DON'T MISS

2 Killed When Vintage Plane Crashes During Father’s Day Event at Southern California Airfield

DON'T MISS

California Firefighters Gain Ground Against Big Wildfires After Hot, Windy Weekend

DON'T MISS

‘The Outsiders’ Wins Best Musical and ‘Stereophonic’ Best Play as Women Make Strides at Tony Awards

DON'T MISS

This Is How Clovis East Alum Bryson DeChambeau Won His 2nd US Open, Denying Rory McIlroy

DON'T MISS

Biden’s Campaign Announces a $50 Million Advertising Blitz Highlighting Trump’s Conviction

DON'T MISS

Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes

DON'T MISS

What Have We Liberals Done to the West Coast?

DON'T MISS

Caitlin Clark Overcomes Another Physical Game, Scores 23 to Lead Fever Past Sky

DON'T MISS

Giants Drop Angels as Soler’s 3-Run HR Keys a 9-Run Inning

UP NEXT

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to Issue Over 175,000 Marijuana Pardons

UP NEXT

Putin to Visit North Korea Amid Concerns Over Military Cooperation

UP NEXT

Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet After Key Partner Exits, Say Israeli Officials

UP NEXT

The Latest | Hezbollah Says Its Intensified Attacks Show Israel That All-out War Would Be Costly

UP NEXT

Squaw Valley Man Allegedly Killed by Lifelong Friend

UP NEXT

Tyson Foods Heir Suspended as CFO After Second Alcohol-Related Arrest

UP NEXT

G7 Leaders Agree to Lend Ukraine Billions Backed by Russia’s Frozen Assets. Here’s How It Will Work

UP NEXT

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder for NLRB to Win Court Orders in Labor Disputes

UP NEXT

US Reporter Evan Gershkovich, Jailed in Russia on Espionage Charges, to Stand Trial, Officials Say

UP NEXT

Supreme Court Rules California Man Can’t Trademark ‘Trump Too Small’

‘The Outsiders’ Wins Best Musical and ‘Stereophonic’ Best Play as Women Make Strides at Tony Awards

29 mins ago

This Is How Clovis East Alum Bryson DeChambeau Won His 2nd US Open, Denying Rory McIlroy

34 mins ago

Biden’s Campaign Announces a $50 Million Advertising Blitz Highlighting Trump’s Conviction

41 mins ago

Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes

50 mins ago

What Have We Liberals Done to the West Coast?

1 hour ago

Caitlin Clark Overcomes Another Physical Game, Scores 23 to Lead Fever Past Sky

2 hours ago

Giants Drop Angels as Soler’s 3-Run HR Keys a 9-Run Inning

2 hours ago

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to Issue Over 175,000 Marijuana Pardons

2 hours ago

Ohtani Has Second Two-Homer Game of Season, Betts Breaks Hand as Dodgers Beat Royals

2 hours ago

US: Michigan, CUNY Failed to Assess Hostile Environment from Israel-Hamas War Protests

2 hours ago

California’s Democratic Leaders Clash With Businesses Over Curbing Retail Theft. Here’s What to Know

SACRAMENTO — With retail theft increasing, California Democratic leadership is clashing with a coalition of law enforcement and business gro...

3 mins ago

3 mins ago

California’s Democratic Leaders Clash With Businesses Over Curbing Retail Theft. Here’s What to Know

11 mins ago

2 Killed When Vintage Plane Crashes During Father’s Day Event at Southern California Airfield

21 mins ago

California Firefighters Gain Ground Against Big Wildfires After Hot, Windy Weekend

29 mins ago

‘The Outsiders’ Wins Best Musical and ‘Stereophonic’ Best Play as Women Make Strides at Tony Awards

34 mins ago

This Is How Clovis East Alum Bryson DeChambeau Won His 2nd US Open, Denying Rory McIlroy

41 mins ago

Biden’s Campaign Announces a $50 Million Advertising Blitz Highlighting Trump’s Conviction

50 mins ago

Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes

1 hour ago

What Have We Liberals Done to the West Coast?

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend