Lower-Cost Prescription Drugs Soon to be Legally Imported?

August 9, 2007
Angie Drakulich
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

The US House of Representatives passed legislation permitting importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from other countries, including Canada, Australia, and Europe.

Washington, DC (Aug. 3)-The US House of Representatives passed legislation permitting importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from other countries, including Canada, Australia, and Europe. The legislation is part of a $91-billion spending bill for farm subsidies and nutrition programs; it passed with a 237–18 vote.

Based on past experience, however, it’s likely the provision will not come to fruition. Similar drug importation language has made its way through the House in the past, but has never gotten to the president’s desk for signing, according to an Associated Press article by Andrew Taylor.

And the Bush administration has already stated it may veto this new provision.

If passed, the legislation would permit individuals, wholesalers, and pharmacists to import lower cost US-made, US Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription drugs from around the world. The Bush administration’s concern has to do with keeping consumers safe from counterfeit drugs.

“I understand the intention to lower drug prices to the seniors, that is critically important,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich). “What we’re doing is throwing open the gates to every (drug) counterfeiter in the world.”

Outside the US, drugs can cost as much as two-thirds less than they do in the US because prices are regulated in part or full by governments, according to Associated Press. It is currently legal for Americans to buy a 90-day supply of a prescription drug from Canada.

Objecting drug companies attempted to strike the importation clause from the spending bill, but they were unsuccessful.