Members of the U.S. House and Senate have introduced bills that would allow Americans to import prescription drugs from Canada in an attempt to increase accessibility and lower the cost of drugs.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bob Casey (D-Penn.) introduced the “Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act” at the end of February. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
The bill would direct the FDA to promote regulations enabling the importantion of “qualifying prescription drugs” from particular vendors in Canada and other permitted countries into the U.S. Drugs approved in Canada that meet the FDA’s good manufacturing practices standards could be imported through foreign wholesale distributors or licensed pharmacy operators certified by the federal watchdog agency.
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) introduced the “Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2017” in the House of Representatives. Pingree’s bill would permit a 90-day or less supply of prescription drugs to be imported from Canada for personal use. Patients would have to buy the drugs from approved Canadian pharmacies and would need a valid prescription from a provider licensed in the U.S.
The Senate’s bill excludes controlled substances, inhaled surgical drugs and compounded drugs, while the House’s bill leaves out controlled substances, biologics, infused drugs, intravenously injected drugs, inhaled drugs for surgery, parenteral drugs, biotechnology-processed products and refrigerated products.
Sen. John McCain introduced a nearly identical bill to the Senate in January this year.
In the midst of a fight over the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, Congress is busy discussing how best to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for American citizens.
Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price told reporters that the administration did not agree with the nonpartisan office’s findings and said that the CBO had not evaluated the full plan.