If there’s one popular drug-price proposal across parties, it’s the possibility of importation. Politicians from President Donald Trump to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) note that drugs are cheaper in other countries, and Americans should be able to buy them.
One party that’s not on board is the other countries. Case in point: Canadian officials have said they don’t support these proposals for fear that Americans buying their drugs will lead to shortages or drive costs up.
While U.S. lawmakers are plowing ahead with these proposals, Canadian industry leaders and government officials are voicing their opposition. Groups such as the Canadian Pharmacists Association and others are urging the country’s health minister to consider the effect on drug supply.
“Canadians along with pharmacists have been alarmed by the growing interest from our American counterparts to import medications from Canada into the U.S. and the impact that this could have on Canada’s drug supply,” the letter from the Canadian Pharmacists Association reads. “While we sympathize with American patients who are seeking affordable access to medications, we do not believe that this is a practical or sustainable solution to addressing their domestic concerns.”
The pharmacists’ association and other Canadian healthcare organizations met with Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor this week to discuss the U.S. drug-importation proposal.
At the end of July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration released a plan that outlined two pathways to import drugs. The U.S. government plan focused on ensuring the quality and safety of drugs imported from Canada.
It would first allow some states, wholesalers or pharmacists to develop pilot programs to import drugs and, second, establish a national drug code that manufacturers would use to sell imported drugs separate from U.S. distribution agreements, and potentially at a lower price.
In another move away from the U.S., Canada also revised its pricing regulations last week. The amendment removed the U.S. and Switzerland, two developed countries with the highest drug costs, from its international pricing average.
In the announcement about the change, Health Canada said the amendments ensure that “prices here are judged against countries that actually look like Canada in terms of population, economy and approach to healthcare.” Ouch, Canada.
Every Wednesday, MM&M covers health policy changes relevant to pharma and healthcare marketers. Got a tip? Contact Alison Kanski at firstname.lastname@example.org.