Canadian drug pricing war strikes blow to Trump’s plan to import prescription drugs across the border

The Trump administration recently unveiled a new strategy to make prescription drugs more affordable.

However, Trump just received the devastating notice that developments in Canada’s market could be creating an insurmountable obstacle. 

Importing Canadian pharmaceuticals

On December 18, the Food and Drug Administration released a statement that began, “Today, President Trump, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that, if finalized, would allow for the importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada.”

“The NPRM issued today,” it continued, “is the first step in implementing a provision of federal law that would allow for the importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada under specific conditions that ensure the importation poses no additional risk to the public’s health and safety while achieving a significant reduction in the cost of covered products to the American consumer.”

Yet according to the Washington Examiner, Canadian officials aren’t as excited about the idea, fearing that a large influx of American customers could disrupt the market.

Major obstacles

“The Canadian market is too small to have a real impact on U.S. drug prices,” Canada’s acting ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman it quoted her as saying. Hillman added, “The U.S. consumes 44 percent of the global prescription drug supply, compared to Canada’s 2 percent.”

Although Canada boasts lower drug prices than the US, Canadians are still facing problems of their own when it comes to drug prices, something that was reflected in a government report.

It said that “almost 1 million Canadians had cut their household spending on food and heat to pay for medication.” Another finding was that “1 in 5 households reported a family member who, in the past year, had not taken a prescribed medicine due to its cost.”

That has resulted in political pressure being put on the government, someone that was reflected in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2019 throne speech.

“Pharmacare is the key missing piece of universal healthcare in this country,” he wrote in a statement that was read out by Governor General Julie Payette, repeating a point that he had raised during this year’s election campaign.

The speech also contained a pledge “to introduce and implement national pharmacare so that Canadians have the drug coverage they need.”

Also unclear is what effect the upheaval of current Canadian rules would have on Trump’s own drug proposal, but until Canada comes to a conclusion on the issue, Trump may have to put his plans on the back burner.

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