Senators Urge Biden Administration to Make It Easier for Americans to Buy Prescription Drugs from Canada

On July 26, 2021, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Angus King (I-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) encouraging the agency to support policies that will allow Americans to personally import certain prescription drugs from Canada.

In the letter, the senators noted that, “Americans, on average, pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world and are struggling to afford the medications they need. Last year, one in three Americans saw their out-of-pocket medication costs increase, and that has real consequences. Nearly 30 percent of adults report not taking their medicines as prescribed because of the cost.”

The letter also mentioned the Biden administration’s recent Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy that recognized prescription drug prices could be lowered through the importation of safe and cheaper drugs from Canada.

In February 2021, the senators introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act to permit personal importation of certain safe and effective prescription drugs from approved Canadian pharmacies. In the July 26 letter, the senators urged HHS to support their legislation that is aimed at creating savings for consumers and bringing greater competition into the pharmaceutical market.

Under the proposed legislation, individuals would only be able to purchase no more than a 90-day supply of eligible drugs for personal use. Eligible drugs must be prescribed by a physician licensed in the U.S., purchased from an approved list of Canadian pharmacies to be published by the FDA, and dispensed by a licensed Canadian pharmacist. In addition, eligible drugs must have the same active ingredients, route of administration, dosage form, and strength as an FDA-approved drug.

The bill also excludes certain drugs, including controlled substances, biological products as defined in section 351 of the Public Health Service Act, infused drugs, intravenously injected drugs, drugs that are inhaled during surgery, parenteral drugs, drugs manufactured through a biotechnology process, drugs requiring refrigeration, and photoreactive drugs.

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