WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Angus King (I-ME) to introduce legislation that will help lower the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs by allowing Americans to import safe, low-cost medicine from Canada. Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced a companion bill in the House.
Both measures would authorize the secretary of Health and Human Services in two years to allow importation from other advanced countries.
"Americans have the safest prescription drug supply in the world, but struggle to afford the exorbitant cost. Consumers should not have to choose between prescription drug safety and affordability. This bill is designed to address this disconnect and ensure that Americans can access safe and affordable medication," said Senator Heinrich.
The legislation, the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, introduced in the Senate and House, would instruct the secretary of Health and Human Services to put forward regulations allowing wholesalers, pharmacies and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs from licensed Canadian sellers. After two years, the secretary would have the authority to permit importation from countries in the Organizations for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with standards for the approval and sale of prescription drugs that are comparable to those in the United States.
The bill includes detailed provisions outlining safeguards and consumer protections that ensure the safety of imported drugs, including FDA certification of foreign sellers, a clear definition of what drugs may be imported and supply chain security requirements.
Legally imported drugs under the bill must be purchased from an FDA-certified foreign seller and must have the same active ingredient, route of administration and strength as drugs approved in the United States. The new agreement also cracks down on rogue online pharmacies.
Allowing the importation of safe and affordable prescription drugs is overwhelmingly supported by the American people with 71 percent in favor of allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada.
Organizations supporting the bill include: Alliance for Retired Americans, American Federation of Teachers, Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA), CREDO, DailyKos, Economic Policy Institute, Justice in Aging, MoveOn, NAACP, National Center for Health Research, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Organization for Women, PharmacyChecker.com, Prescription Justice, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, RxRights and Social Security Works.
For a summary of the bill and background, click here.
To read the bill, click here.