- The Trump administration wants to let Americans import cheaper drugs from Canada.
- Many details of the proposal still need to be worked out.
- Both Republicans and Democrats have long touted the idea of lowering drug costs for US consumers by importing drugs from Canada.
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The Trump administration is exploring ways to allow Americans to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday.
The move holds out the promise of lower-cost prescription drugs, but many details would still need to be worked out. The administration will look into new rules to allow states, pharmacies and other parties to bring in drugs from Canada as part of pilot projects. The US Food and Drug Administration could also allow manufacturer to bring into the US version of their drugs that they sell overseas.
"We all know how unfair it is that other countries are paying lower prices for the same drugs, and we’re taking action," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said on a Wednesday morning call with reporters.
Azar said that the changes in the "landscape and opportunities" for safe foreign drug importation had made it possible for the administration to explore importing drugs. The agency will be setting a framework around it and wants to see proposals from states, wholesalers and pharmacies, he said.
The timeline for drug importation is unclear, and stocks in the biotech and life sciences sector were muted in premarket trading after the news. Amgen was the biggest mover, climbing 2.3%, while other heavyweights like Merck, Pfizer, Celgene, and Gilead traded little changed.
President Donald Trump has promised since the start of his presidency to deliver lower-cost drugs for the US, but had so far fallen short on that promise. Both Republicans and Democrats have long touted the idea of lowering drug costs for US consumers by importing drugs from Canada.
Just this week, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined people with diabetes on a trip to Canada to buy cheaper drugs, highlighting the disparity in cost between the US and its northern neighbor. Healthcare has become a major issue in the 2020 Democratic primary campaign, and candidates clashed over proposals to reshape the US system and guarantee care for all in a debate last night.
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