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The Latest: Plan to allow drug imports will take time

Posted at 5:31 AM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 18:30:08-04

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s plan to lower prescription drug prices (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

It’s unclear how soon consumers will see benefits from a Trump administration plan to allow Americans to legally and safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada for the first time.

The move would reverse years of refusals by health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medications.

It is a step toward fulfilling a 2016 campaign promise by President Donald Trump. It weakens an import ban that has stood as a symbol of the political clout of the pharmaceutical industry.

The plan has to go through time-consuming regulatory approval and later could face court challenges from drugmakers. And there’s no telling how Canada will react to becoming the drugstore for its much bigger neighbor, with potential consequences for policymakers and consumers there.


11:40 a.m.

The drug industry lobby says the Trump administration’s plan to let Americans import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada is “far too dangerous.”

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says there’s “no way to guarantee the safety of drugs” coming from outside the United States. It says in an emailed statement drugs coming through Canada could have originated anywhere and may not have been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.

It also says law enforcement has repeatedly warned that importation schemes could worsen the U.S. opioid crisis.

President Donald Trump’s administration said Wednesday it will create a pathway allowing Americans to import the lower-priced drugs legally and safely.

The move reverses years of opposition from federal health authorities amid public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medications. The drug industry has successfully blocked past efforts in Washington to allow importation.


8:27 a.m.

The Trump administration says it will set up a system allowing Americans to legally access lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement Wednesday morning.

Azar, a former drug industry executive, says U.S. patients will be able to import medications safely and effectively, with oversight from the Food and Drug Administration. States, drug wholesalers and pharmacists would act as intermediaries for consumers.

The administration’s move comes as the industry is facing a litany of consumer complaints over drug prices, as well as legislation from both parties in Congress to rein in costs. President Donald Trump is supporting a Senate bill to cap medication costs for Medicare recipients.


12:05 a.m.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says he and President Donald Trump are working on a plan to allow Americans to import lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada.

Azar made the comments Tuesday in an interview with CNBC.

As a candidate, Trump called for allowing Americans to import prescription drugs from abroad, and recently he’s backed a Florida law allowing state residents to gain access to medications from Canada.

Azar told CNBC he had just gotten off the phone with the president and they were discussing a plan that would allow Americans to safely and effectively import prescriptions from Canada.

Azar didn’t elaborate, but HHS says both are very open to the importation of prescription drugs as long as it can be done safely and can deliver results for patients.