In a bid to lower the cost of prescription drugs, the Trump administration announced that it would create a system that allows Americans to purchase medications from Canada legally. The announcement was made by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday morning, and the program aims to resolve consumer complaints regarding drug prices.
Azar, according to a report by the AP, stated that patients in the US would be able to access imported medications safely and effectively, adding that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would have oversight. States, pharmacists, and prescription drug wholesalers would function as intermediaries in the system.
However, the drug industry lobby believes that the Trump administration’s plan would be “far too dangerous.”
According to the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, there is “no way to guarantee the safety of drugs” that come from outside of the US. In an emailed statement, the lobby stated that the medications coming from Canada could originate from anywhere and that the drugs may not have been properly vetted by the FDA.
“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,” said Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America CEO Stephen Ubl.
Additionally, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America says that law enforcement agencies have warned that such an importation plan could make the opioid crisis worse.
HHS also confirmed that President Donald Trump and Azar are open to the idea of giving Americans access to imported drugs from Canada as long as the program can make it safe to do so and delivers positive results for patients.
Trump recently backed a new Florida law that would allow residents of the state to gain access to prescription medications from Canada. He is also supporting a Senate bill that would cap medication costs for individuals using Medicare.
It isn’t clear what prescription drugs may be included in the importation system or how quickly access would be granted.
However, certain drugs – including controlled substances, biologics, and IV medications – would at least initially be excluded.