• linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    U.S. Senators want drugs imported from Canada

    Sens. McCain and Klobuchar tout new legislation

    Ned MilenkovichNed MilenkovichOn January 8, 2015 U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) reintroduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015. The bipartisan legislation would allow individuals to import prescription drugs purchased from an approved Canadian pharmacy into the United States. The purpose of this legislation is to mitigate the high cost of prescription drugs in the U.S, which causes many Americans to forgo filling their prescriptions, by allowing individuals to safely import a personal supply from Canada.

    The bill was first introduced in July 2014 following a finding that average prescription drug prices in the United States were twice as expensive as those in Canada. Sen. McCain stated, “This legislation would allow individuals to safely import prescription drugs in the United States from our neighbors to the north, spur much-needed competition in the pharmaceutical market, and save individual Americans up to hundreds of dollars a year.” Sen. Klobuchar agreed, saying, “This bill would allow for safe import of these drugs from Canada, let competition in from the border, and bring down costs for American families.”

    See also: Judge overturns Maine drug importation law

    Safety protected

    The legislation also ensures that cost savings associated with importing will not come at the expense of consumer safety. The Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2015 would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to grant the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 180 days to publish regulations allowing Americans to import prescription drugs.

    In order to ensure the safety of participating individuals, the regulations would require that HHS approve the Canadian pharmacy, that the dispensing pharmacist be licensed in Canada, and that a licensed U.S. physician issue the prescription being filled.

    The drugs imported would also need to be approved prescription drugs under the FFDCA, and quantity restrictions would allow for no more than a 90-day supply. In conjunction with the new regulations, the HHS would also be responsible for creating a certification process for Canadian pharmacies and maintaining an up-to-date list of the pharmacies that have certified.

    See also: Implications of the Maine drug-import law

    Maine was first

    This legislation would not be the first of its kind. In 2013, Maine enacted similar legislation that allowed residents to purchase drugs from Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.

    However, Judge Nancy Torresen of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine recently ruled that Maine’s international importation drug law was unconstitutional due to federal preemption. Judge Torresen stated, “There is a clear Congressional intent to tightly control prescription drug importation.” She went on to say, “The FDC Act occupies the field of importation of pharmaceuticals from foreign countries” not state law.

    Ned Milenkovich, PharmD, JD
    This article is not intended as legal advice and should not be used as such. When legal questions arise, pharmacists should consult with ...

    1 Comment

    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • DOUGLASHeidbreder
      If the professionals we entrust to supply consumers with their medications, namely U.S. pharmacists, can't buy pharmaceuticals from Canada to provide to their customers, why would our Senators want to allow individuals to do this? Do they really want to support Canadian businesses over ones in the U.S? Properly licensed U.S. pharmacies and pharmacists can't buy drug products from Canada at their prices. It's not legal to do so and has the potential to disrupt the safety of the U.S. drug supply. Sidestepping this issue by allowing unlicensed individuals to purchase them defies common sense.