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.”
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 ̵
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 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.