FDA and HHS To Import Prescription Drugs In Effort To Lower Prices

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and HHS (Health and Human Services) will import prescription drugs from overseas in an effort to lower U.S. drug prices.


The Trump administration earlier this week announced two new plans that will help Americans pay lower prices for expensive drugs, including insulin. These plans are a priority for the Trump Administration.

The first plan authorizes pilot programs by states, where wholesalers and pharmacists can import Canadian versions of certain FDA-approved drugs.


The second plan gives drug makers a way to negotiate new distribution contracts in order to sell lower-priced foreign versions of a wide range of drugs. These would include important drugs like insulin and arthritis medication.





FDA: Seniors, Low, Middle Class Hope For Better Pricing

Alex Azar, HHS Commissioner and FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said that their agencies are committed to getting these plans activated as soon as possible. Missing still, at this time, are specifics as to how the plans will actually work.


One thing, though, is that the plans must be activated through a proposed rule change. In addition, these policies would also need manufacturers to use a new national drug code in order to sell their cheaper foreign versions in the United States. The problem is, they not be able to get out of their existing contracts.

There are other hurdles as well. Azar and Sharpless acknowledged, that Canada’s might be unwilling wto send their drugs to the United States. Momentum for the Canadian import idea has already sparked several protests from Canadian pharmacy groups. It will be the responsibility of the States and wholesale brokers to set up the contracts.


There are several hurdles, but Azar says they are surmountable and progress is being made.


The implementation of two plans comes as the politics of healthcare heat up for the 2020 campaign. Drug prices are a top issue for voters and a policy priority for Trump. But the administration has already faced a series of setbacks on their regulatory agenda.


The Future Of Prescription Drug Prices?

Lowering the prices of key prescription drugs is, surprisingly, a very contentious issue for Senate Republicans. Even though the Senate Finance Committee passed a major set of proposals, nearly all the GOP members of the panel fought to strip out the cornerstone policy.


The cornerstone policy is a limit to how high manufacturers can raise their list prices each year. Panel leaders want to advance the package to the Senate floor in September.


House Democrats have yet to release a plan of their own, despite months of negotiating with the White House.


Already, one major pharmaceutical trade group hit back at the proposal. Jim Greenwood, CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, said there is “no way to adopt an importation scheme that doesn’t jeopardize the health and well-being of America’s patients.”


Mr.Greenwood is skeptical that these two plans will actually lower drug prices for consumers. In his opinion, the only beneficiaries will be the insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers.

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