WASHINGTON — President Trump’s new plan to import cheaper drugs from Canada seems like a no-brainer. But like most things in health care, it’s complicated.

The logic is simple enough: Canadians buy the same drugs, made by the same manufacturers, but they get them at a much cheaper cost. So, says Trump, let’s take their drugs.

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  • to be added to the long list of:
    let’s pretend we are doing something, but let be sure that everything stays the same

  • There is a federal election in Canada this fall. Expect plenty of pushback from any Canadian politician as it seems likely tRump’s “plan” will likely reduce drug supplies to Canadians and/or push up Canadian prices. One commentator likened the proposal to a parent’s making his kids Kraft dinner but encouraging them to go to the neighbours for lobster and steak. Dear USA: Please don’t “export” your problems to Canada.

  • This whole discussion avoids what’s really going on here: importing Canadian drug-price regulation. As the story points out, the drugs are all made in the same factories, whether sold in the U.S. or in Canada. The difference is that Canada — like every major economy besides the U.S. — regulates drug prices. We don’t do that because the drug industry spreads around too much money in campaign contributions and lobbying. So this idea of importing Canadian drug price regulation is really a cowardly way out.

  • Well, Mr. Florko admitted that his article doesn’t really include everything we need to know about importation. Many Americans already import cheaper medication for personal use from Canada and other countries: about 20 million have done so according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. See https://khn.org/news/faced-with-unaffordable-drug-prices-tens-of-millions-buy-medicine-outside-u-s/.

    Unfortunately, many people don’t buy from safe foreign pharmacies because they are scared away by Pharma-front groups who misinform people that all online foreign pharmacies that sell to the U.S. are not safe [See https://tarbell.org/2019/02/heres-how-the-drug-industry-funds-experts-to-discredit-efforts-to-lower-prices2/%5D. It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Section 804 of the FDCA, 21 USC 384, which Azar cites in the new plan as the implementing statute, is not just about wholesale importation. It tells the HHS Secretary that he should permit personal imports as long as they don’t represent an “unreasonable risk” to the patient. Americans consumers would greatly benefit from HHS following Congress’ mandate here by providing a list of properly credentialed international online pharmacies, kind of like our company does already. See: http://www.aei.org/publication/drug-importation-should-lower-prices-but-the-fda-can-do-more/.

    Gabriel Levitt
    President, PharmacyChecker.com

  • This is an utterly low, cheap, short-sighted, selfish, quick-fix, super-short-term solution. Milk the neighbour (with only a tenth of the population of the US !!) dry, because you totally fail in your own homeland ??? The US can only solve its problems by being balsier IN THEIR OWN HOUSE: terminate the PBMs, lobbyists, corruption, middle-men and other leeches! That the US calls itself a “super power nation” is now underscored again to be a huge joke – it is the laughing stock of the civilized western world. Who in his right mind just simplistically wants to drain the supply in a friendly neighbour nation???? It would be totally logical if finally Canada too is forced to stop being friendly to the giant “America first” leech.

  • What’s missing is, why are the same drugs so expensive in the USA?

    “Crestor costs roughly $40 for a month’s supply in Canada, versus nearly $300 in the U.S.” And, the reason is?????

  • Thanks for the story.
    I think the bigger question is why is Azar supporting this Trump driven proposal? I think the fight is a much bigger fight with the industry to stop selling its products so cheaply in the EU and Japan and instead establish a “developed” nations price. Trump is fighting for Americans and does not like that Americans subsidize other developed nations drug costs through a high “implied tax” on Americans in the form of a industry research subsidy. It is a not unreasonable world view that the developed nations should pay a standard price for a standard product that is under patent protection. It is also reasonable that generics should have the same price worldwide also.
    The bigger question is when will the drug industry get the fact that it should not discount so heavily prices in other developed nations and start making the other countries pay a uniform price just like they do for Oil(generics) and Chips(on patent drugs) they are no different from a consumer perspective. Interestingly both of those industries spend a lot of R&D/Exploration $ getting their products to market.
    Is this the long game negotiation that trump and Azar are having with the industry?

  • Crestor is NOT a blood pressure medicine. It’s indication is for lowering high cholesterol (same class of drugs as Lipitor). Also, this idea has terrible implications for Canada. Manufactures will likely limit quantities sold to Canadian pharmacies to current amounts. This will create shortages for Canadians and will likely motivate the Canadian government to pass laws to stop this method of “re-importation”.

  • I have been ordering my pulmonary inhalers from Canada since 2015 and the drugs come from the same manufacturers but at a greatly reduced price than if I ordered in the U.S. If I ordered the inhalers here in the US, they would cost me between $150-200/month even with a coupon and I can get a 3 month supply of that same inhaler between $80-$110.

  • “For example, the blood pressure medicine Crestor costs roughly $40 for a month’s supply in Canada, versus nearly $300 in the U.S.”

    Huh? Crestor is a terrible example. The product is generic in the U.S. Pharmacies buy it for ~10 cents/pill. Why would anyone bother getting it from Canada?

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