Trump Administration Announces Plan To Import Drugs From Canada

US-HEALTH-OPIOID-OXYCODON-ILLUSTRATIONThis week the Trump administration announced their proposed rulemaking that would potentially allow for the importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada. If passed, the the plan would not be an immediate fix for high U.S. drug costs, but may help some Americans obtain cheaper drugs without having to cross the border.

According to an FDA press release published on Monday, the Trump administration announced that it had proposed a rulemaking that, if finalized, would allow for certain prescription drugs from Canada to be sold in the U.S. This plan was created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. FDA. The potential plan allows for two routes to import drugs from Canada. The first would allow states to develop plans to purchase drugs from Canada. The second would allow drug manufacturers to import cheaper versions of their drugs from Canada.

“Today’s announcement outlines two pathways for the safe importation of certain prescription drugs to help provide safe, effective, more affordable drugs to American patients,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, in the FDA press release. “These are historic actions by HHS and the FDA, and they represent the bold nature of President Trump’s agenda for lowering drug costs. The President has recognized the opportunity to lower costs for American patients through safe importation, and we at HHS and FDA are delivering on that possibility through a safe, commonsense approach.”

Drug prices in the U.S. are known to be high, due to a number of reasons such as the cost of adherence to the stringent FDA guidelines and the fact that the U.S. is a free market with no set prices. In addition, U.S. drug creators are able to advertise directly to the public, something only legal in the U.S. and New Zealand. This creates demand and competition, which can also has a toll on drug prices.

In Canada, the case it not the same. Along with having different national drug standards that cost a different amount to uphold, the Canadian government has somewhat control over what companies can and cannot charge for their drugs. The result is often far cheaper prices for medications.

As for the question, are drugs imported from Canada as safe as those from the U.S., experts seem to agree this is the case.

“Are the drugs in Canada as good as the drugs in the United States? For the most part I would say absolutely yes,” explained Paul Nowierski, a Senior Director of Pharmacy & Clinical Services at a New York hospital. “Inherently, the drugs are safe and effective.”

Nowierski, explained that the U.S. is not completely new to selling and distributing drugs from abroad.

“During drug shortages, the government in some cases allow for the import of drugs from a foreign country. This means that every once and a while the market in the U.S. gets so dry that they [the U.S. government] allow for the import of something that was not under FDA guidance,” said Nowierski.

The potential timeline for which it would take this proposed rulemaking to take effect has not yet been released.