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Sanders bill would allow drug importation, lower costs

Written by Diane Archer

The way to ensure prescription drugs are affordable in the U.S. is for the government to establish fair prices for these drugs, just as virtually all other nations do. In the meantime, Senator Bernie Sanders, along with co-sponsors Senators Cory Booker and Bob Casey, have introduced a bill in Congress that would allow people in the U.S. to take advantage of the low drug prices other advanced nations have negotiated. It would allow drug importation from these countries by individuals, pharmacies and wholesale distributors, lowering people’s drug costs.

Sanders’ bill, the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop regulations that allowed importation of safe and effective drugs from Canada within 180 days of the law’s enactment. And, two years later, the law would permit importation of safe and effective drugs from many advanced nations.

The law uses free trade between the U.S. and other countries to drive down the cost of drugs here. Failing to allow people in the U.S. to import lower cost prescription drugs disadvantages us economically. We spend more than $300 billion a year on prescription drugs, with the federal government (taxpayers) picking up $100 billion of the cost. Making drug importation by wholesalers, pharmacies and individuals legal would save us tens of billions of dollars annually.

In 2014, Americans spent an average of $1,114 per person on prescription drugs. Canadians spent about 70 percent of what we spent per person, $772. Danes spent $325 on average. That said, millions of Americans already take advantage of lower prescription drug prices abroad through online pharmacies.

Today, the drug industry is among the most highly profitable industries. The five most profitable pharmaceutical companies took in more than $50 billion in profits in 2015. High drug prices benefit drug company executives and shareholders and hurt working people. The lack of competition in the prescription drug marketplace for many medically necessary drugs is jeopardizing the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Lloyd Doggett introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

If you support making drug prices in the U.S. affordable, please sign this petition.

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1 Comment

  • …it always get me why US citizens have to be gouged so deeply for prescription medications while citizens of other nations aren’t. Most of the US citizenry is not affluent yet the high cost of many life saving prescription regimens pretty much require one to be wealthy to afford them. What is worse, older medications that have been around for years even decades, have been rising in price significantly.

    Big Pharma claims it is R & D costs, however they often get grants (paid for by the taxpayers they gouge) as well as use the facilities of colleges and universities (including publicly funded ones giving a them a “double dip” of state and federal funding) to conduct their research. When I see 90 to 120 minute slick adverts on television, especially during “high priced” events like the Super Bowl, or hear of the amount of money they spend on bribing…er…lobbying Congress, I have a very difficult time accepting any notion they are hurting so bad financially that they need to charge such outrageous prices to cover the costs.

    Currently there is a bill that would allow them to push new medications to market in a shorter amount of time, meaning less research, less testing which would pose a potentially greater danger to the public. Will this cause them to lower their prices? I wouldn’t count on it.

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