States Consider Importing Drugs From Canada

Lawmakers in more than 34 states are trying to reduce prescription drug costs; some are introducing legislation that would allow drugs to be imported from Canada, where they cost an average 30 percent less than in the U.S.

“States have to balance budgets,” Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy in Maine, told AP News. “You budget a certain amount of money for drugs in a state employee health program or a Medicaid program, and you’re surprised by the mid-year increases that are unpredictable and huge.”

Drug prices are set by pharmaceutical companies and are subject to costs and competition; Medicaid negotiates cheaper prices for low-income Americans. One hope is that importing drugs can help alleviate the burden of high costs for all Americans, said Rep. Norm Thurston (R-UT), who introduced a drug-import bill in his state.

In Vermont, a Senate committee has approved a proposal to create a bulk-purchasing program that would import drugs from Canada so they could be distributed at lower prices by pharmacies.

Source: AP News, February 11, 2018.