Four Senators Call On Becerra To Back Importation Of Prescription Drugs From Canada

July 27, 2021

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Source: The Hill, by Justine Coleman

A bipartisan group of four senators requested Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra’s support to allow less costly prescription drugs to be imported from Canada.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) sent a letter to the secretary on Monday asking him to back policies permitting states and tribes to import certain prescription drugs from Canada.

In a letter, the senators argued that personal importation could deliver “a critical solution” to lowering medication costs, a goal of the Biden administration. The letter cited that almost 30 percent of adults say they don’t take their prescribed medications due to the cost.

“Americans should be able to obtain affordable medications, and expanding access to safe and affordable drugs in Canada can make a difference by providing direct relief to the millions of Americans who are struggling to afford the increasing cost of prescription drugs,” the letter reads.

“As the Administration considers options for lowering the cost of prescription drugs for patients, we urge your support for permanent solutions that will allow Americans to safely and personally import their medication,” the senators wrote.

The senators specifically called on Becerra to support the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, reintroduced by Klobuchar and Grassley in February, that would permit drugs to be imported from the northern country.

The four lawmakers also referenced Biden’s executive order from earlier this month that instructed his administration to cooperate with states on developing programs for this Canadian importation.

Biden had previously campaigned on permitting cheaper medications to be imported.

Former President Trump also signed an executive order last year to accelerate plans to allow states to bring in specific drugs from Canada, although the imports haven’t started.

Democrats have ramped up pressure in Congress for drug pricing reforms with the majority in both chambers, particularly pushing to allow Medicare permission to negotiate prices to reduce medication costs.

But Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry have strongly opposed Medicare negotiation to lower costs, saying it would suppress innovation and research into new drugs.

 

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