Trump administration plans to allow prescription drug imports from Canada

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar discusses the new plan drug importation plan

WASHINGTON (GrayDC) -- In a move to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise, the Trump administration is planning to create a way for Americans to legally import prescription drugs from Canada.

This week’s announcement, from the Department of Health and Human Services, comes after years of push-back from health care authorities and pleas from the public for affordable medications

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says there are two pathways for the plan. One options would allow individual states to draft their own plans to import the drugs. In the other, the FDA would establish guidelines for drug manufacturers.

“What we’re talking about are the same drugs that Canadian citizens have access to in Canadian cities,” said Azar. “We’re working through businesses and the states to get them brought into the U.S in a way that respects and controls their safety and complies with the FDA’s regular requirements.”

Critics say the plan is too dangerous, claiming there is no way to guarantee the safety of drugs that come into the country.

President and CEO Stephen J. Ubl of PhRMA, a trade group representing U.S pharmaceutical companies, released the following statement:

“The Administration’s importation scheme is 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. Drugs coming through Canada could have originated from anywhere in the world and may not have undergone stringent review by the FDA. Law enforcement has repeatedly warned that importation schemes could worsen the opioid crisis and jeopardize public safety. Moreover, Canadian officials have said that the policy is unworkable, and they will not risk shortages by diverting their medicine supply to the United States.

“In the words of Secretary Azar just last year, drug importation is a ‘gimmick’ and ‘the last thing we need is open borders for unsafe drugs.’ Rather than surrender the safety of Americans by importing failed polices from single-payer countries, we should work on solutions here at home that would lower patient out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter.”<.>

At this time, it is unclear how soon consumers will see benefits as the plan could still face several court challenges.

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