The new administration has vowed to lower drug prices. The new importation bill maybe exactly the solution to that. The bill – pending in Congress – proposes to remove importation barriers and enable Americans to purchase foreign drugs. In 2003, we came pretty close to drug importation through the Medicare Modernization Act. The Secretary of HHS, however, could not assure the quality of these drugs and did not present the numbers on how much such measure would save. The FDA was also vocal about opposing the measure arguing possible serious harm from the use of adulterated, substandard, or counterfeit drugs.

A recent proposal from the Democrats (including Bernie Sanders) may possibly overcome this concern by setting up a regulatory system where Canadian pharmacies who purchase their supply from manufacturers inspected by the FDA would be licensed to sell to the U.S. patients. The bill also allows drug wholesalers and pharmacies to buy from Canada. The bill provides that HHS could eventually allow importation from other countries that meet standards comparable with the U.S. standards.

Trump has publicly announced that he supports the measure. The bill, however, faces serious opposition form the Pharma (surprise!) claiming that the measure presents threats to public health.

According to Kaiser Health News (KHN) about 8% of Americans have bought medicines outside of the U.S. A report by KHN also noted that helps Americas buy expensive medications in Canada (legal?). For a comparison on U.S. and Canada drug prices, go to KHN’s article covering the bill by clicking here.

Potentially this bill could be a game-changer for pharmacies, since they would have to compete with foreign pharmacies but potentially could buy cheaper products from foreign suppliers.

The summary of the bill can be accessed here.