Can Canada Help Fix America’s High Drug Price Problem?—Brainstorm Health

July 31, 2019, 10:27 PM UTC

Hello and happy hump day, readers.

The Trump administration wants to lower drug prices—with an assist from our neighbors up north.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will propose a federal rule allowing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada as a means of fighting the sky-high prices American patients often face.

To be clear, the proposal is tailored towards preliminary programs and pilot projects; for instance, states could choose whether or not to bring in prescription drugs from Canada.

What’s likely more perplexing for drug makers (who are not exactly fans of international drug importation given their superior pricing power in the U.S.) is the next part: They could choose to re-import drugs currently sold at cheaper rates abroad to America (for cheaper prices).

Would drug companies actually do that? Well, if initial responses from trade groups are any indication… Probably not. Drug executives and the industry (and even the FDA itself) have previously claimed that importing drugs from other nations presents a safety hazard. It’s also, clearly, a hazard for their bottom lines.

But President Donald Trump—and, seemingly, politicians across the entire political spectrum—have the biopharma industry in their sights, and the issue has made for some strange bedfellows. Heck, HHS Secretary Alex Azar himself is a former big pharma executive.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy,


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