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Canada to Trump: You can’t take our prescription drugs

Canadian Health Minister Patti Haidou announced on Friday new measures to protect the country’s drug supply from bulk imports, which could worsen drug shortages. It bans the distribution of certain drugs outside Canada if it would cause or worsen the shortage.

“Our health care system is a symbol of our national identity and we are determined to protect it,” Haidu said. “The actions we are taking today will help protect Canadians’ access to the medicines they rely on.”

Drug imports from abroad, especially Canada, are at the heart of Trump’s price reduction plan, a key priority of his campaign and his first term. After the president issued an executive order in July urging such imports, the Ministry of Health and Social Services issued a final rule in late September setting out a path for states and some other entities to set up drug import programs.

President-elect Joe Biden has also expressed interest in allowing users to import drugs from other countries, as the federal government considers them safe.

Last week, Florida became the first state to submit an import proposal to the federal agency to create such a program under the newly issued rule. The plan calls for the initial import of several classes of drugs, including maintenance drugs, to help those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and HIV / AIDS. Several other states, including Vermont, Colorado, New Mexico and Maine, have also passed laws to prosecute federal import approvals.

In response to growing momentum last week, three groups in the pharmaceutical industry filed a lawsuit challenging the imports, saying the efforts would endanger American health and fail to reduce prices.

“The final rule fails to address the well-documented import safety concerns expressed for nearly two decades by previous HHS party secretaries, or to show that the proposal will lead to some ̵

1; albeit significant – savings in costs for American consumers, “said James Stansel, chief adviser at PhRMA, the industry’s main lobby group.

Health policy experts have also questioned the effectiveness of the import of medicines from Canada – where an independent body set up by Parliament ensures that the prices of branded medicines are not excessive. Even HHS Secretary Alex Hazard called it a “trick” in 2018 before changing his tune.

In announcing the measures last week, the Canadian Department of Health said it had repeatedly stated that the US rule would not do much to reduce prices in America, as Canada accounted for only 2% of global pharmaceutical sales, while the US 44% of sales fall.

The Canadian Pharmacists’ Association has warned that the country is already suffering from a drug shortage that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, days before then-Democratic Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders went north with diabetic patients seeking cheaper insulin, a coalition of 15 Canadian medical professionals and patient groups pressured the government to protect the country’s pharmaceutical supplies.
Although she has only a few weeks left in office, the Trump administration recently passed several measures aimed at lowering drug prices. Earlier this month, she uncovered two conflicting rules that immediately sparked legal threats from the pharmaceutical industry.
One will make Medicare pay the same price for some expensive prescription drugs as other developed countries, the “most-favored-nation price.”

The other will effectively ban drug manufacturers from giving discounts to pharmacy managers and insurers – a radical change in the way many drugs are valued and paid for in Medicare and Medicaid. Instead, pharmaceutical companies will be encouraged to pass on discounts directly to pharmacy patients.

The administration withdrew from the rule last year after it was found to increase spending on senior citizens and the federal government.

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