This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced their “Safe Importation Action Plan.” While patients are rightfully concerned about the affordability of their medicine, the fact remains that there is no way to guarantee the safety of drugs that come into the country from outside the U.S. supply chain.
The biopharmaceutical industry remains committed to ensuring patients have access to the medicines they need, and PhRMA is coming to the table with solutions to lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter. In addition to supporting commonsense policies that lower these out-of-pocket expenses, increase competition in the market, and help level the playing field so that other countries pay their fair share, PhRMA recently launched a new tool to help connect eligible patients with more than 900 public and private assistance programs.
Still, importation schemes will never be the right approach. Not only is importation unworkable and proven dangerous, a recent Reuters article highlights the Canadian government’s rightful and ongoing opposition to importation.
Concerns raised in the article include:
- the lack of Canadian medicine supply which could lead to shortages and increased costs for Canadian patients;
- Canadian regulations that prohibit pharmacists from filling prescriptions written by non-Canadian doctors; and
- the failure of U.S. proposals to properly assess the impact in Canada.
Furthermore, a 2018 update to the 2010 study referenced in the article estimated that, if just 20 percent of U.S. prescription medicines were filled in Canada, the Canadian drug supply would run dry in 183days. Additionally, a recent letter from the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies Canada highlighted a host of concerns from Canadian stakeholders.
Our Canadian neighbors have consistently been clear about the fact they have no interest in becoming the medicine cabinet for the United States. That’s part of the reason why we strongly oppose any importation scheme and instead encourage lawmakers to pursue real solutions that will help Americans afford and access their medicines here at home.