U.S. set to al­low Cana­dian drugs

The Prince George Citizen - - Money -

The U.S. gov­ern­ment said Wednes­day it will cre­ate a way for Amer­i­cans to le­gally im­port lower-cost pre­scrip­tion drugs from Canada, re­vers­ing years of re­fusals by health au­thor­i­ties amid an out­cry over high prices for life­sus­tain­ing med­i­ca­tions.

The move is a step to­ward ful­fill­ing a 2016 cam­paign prom­ise by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and it weak­ens an im­port ban that has been 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 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.

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