Democratic senators have introduced a bill that would allow for importing of low-cost medicines from Canada and other nations.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bob Casey (D-Penn.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would instruct HHS Secretary Tom Price to issue regulations allowing drug wholesalers, pharmacies and individuals to import drugs manufactured at facilities inspected by the Food and Drug Administration and sold by FDA-certified Canadian sellers. Two years later, the secretary would be authorized to allow importation from certain countries that meet U.S. standards.
A companion bill was introduced in the house by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). The bill would not permit importation of controlled substances, anesthetic drugs inhaled during surgery, or compounded drugs, and sellers would be required to pay a fee to fund the importation program.
Drugs purchased under the act would have to have the same basic characteristics as the version of the drugs approved in the U.S., and HHS would be authorized to approve laboratory testing of the imported drugs to assess their chemical authenticity. Individuals would be barred from importing certain types of drugs, including some biologics, that could only be imported by wholesalers or pharmacies.
President Donald Trump advocated for the importation of drugs throughout his campaign and has chastised drugmakers for their U.S. pricing strategies. He's also called for border taxes, including a proposed 20% tax on Mexican imports.