Market Overview

Government Outlines Plan For Importation Of Cheaper Drugs From Canada

Government Outlines Plan For Importation Of Cheaper Drugs From Canada

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and the Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that the Trump administration has dropped a long-standing resistance to importing drugs and outlined a plan that could eventually allow the importation of some cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

What To Know

In the past, federal officials — including Azar — have opposed allowing drugs from other countries due to safety concerns.

But President Donald Trump has been pushing officials to help him lower the cost of prescription drugs, and some states have been agitating for such a pathway.

Drug industry groups quickly criticized the idea.

“The administration’s importation scheme is far too dangerous for American patients,” Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America president Stephen Ubl said in a statement.

“There is no way to guarantee the safety of drugs that come into the country from outside the United States’ gold-standard supply chain.”

Why It's Important

Ultimately, it could lead to lower drug prices, though it’s not clear whether the idea can overcome drug industry opposition.

The plan sets out two possible pathways for importation.

First, it would allow state governments, pharmacies and drug manufacturers to come up with demonstration projects to import drugs from Canada, though they’d still need federal approval.

Some states, including Florida and Vermont, are ahead on that, having passed drug import laws — but they didn’t have federal approval to enact them.

The second pathway would let drug manufacturers to import versions of drugs they sell overseas. It would let the manufacturer sell the drug at a lower price than their existing distribution contracts require.

“We are open to all potential solutions to combat high drug prices that protect patient safety, are effective at delivering lower prices, and respect choice, innovation and access,” Azar said in a press release.

“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.”

What's Next

Drug regulation experts told The Washington Post it could take two to three years for the agency to issue a final rule. Experts also told the Post they weren’t sure any foreign drugs would be able to meet the safety requirements.

Related Links

The 5 Most Expensive Drugs In US: What You Should Know

Trump Administration Withdraws Drug Rebate Plan

Posted-In: Alex Azar drug prices Drug Pricing Food and Drug AdministrationGovernment Regulations Health Care General Best of Benzinga


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