President Trump released an executive order allowing the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada in July. In late September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule that created pathways for states to set up drug importation programs.
Canada’s prescription drugs cost less than they do in the U.S, leading seniors to seek drugs from Canada for years. Last year, a group of seniors famously traveled to Canada with Bernie Sanders to get cheaper insulin, a lifesaving drug for diabetes.
Canada blocks imports of certain drugs
But now, Canada is blocking the importation of certain drugs from Canada for those drugs of which there might be a shortage.
Several states have already started putting plans in place for importing drugs from Canada. Florida submitted an importation proposal last week for such drugs for asthma, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Vermont, Colorado, New Mexico, and Maine have also passed laws to pursue federal approval for importing drugs from Canada.
The Canadian block order took effect Friday. Health Minister Patty Hajdu said, “Certain drugs intended for the Canadian market are prohibited from being distributed for consumption outside of Canada if that sale would cause or worsen a drug shortage.
“Companies will now also be required to provide information to assess existing or potential shortages, when requested, and within 24 hours if there is a serious or imminent health risk,” Hadju said.
Pharma groups lobby against the order
It’s not only Canada who is against the rule. Major U.S. pharmaceutical lobbying groups are suing to end the rule, stating that it punts responsibility for safety and cost savings to state governments.
“Our healthcare system is a symbol of our national identity and we are committed to defending it,” Hajdu said. “The actions we are taking today will help protect Canadians’ access to the medication they rely on.”
Trump has been pushing through several measures to lower drug prices as the final weeks of his Presidency come to a close.