In a bid to widen access to medicines, a pair of US senators introduced a bill to speed approvals for treatments when little competition exists – at least under certain circumstances — and temporarily permit prescriptions drugs to be imported in order to mitigate shortages.
Specifically, the bill would allow the Health and Human Services Department to grant faster reviews and inspections, and temporarily permit imports when there are fewer than five competitive drugs that have been on the market for at least 10 years.
The US Food and Drug Administration would be allowed to allow temporarily import medicines from certain countries when HHS decides a drug shortage exists. To rebuff critics who fear the quality of imported medicines can be lacking, the bill specifies that imports can be obtained only from certain countries with similar safety and effectiveness standards as the US. These include the European Union, Australia, Canada and Japan, among others.