Is importing prescription drugs workable?

Washington

HHS chief last year called the idea a gimmick

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The Trump Administration is announcing a new rule aimed at making prescription drugs cheaper by allowing the importation of prescription drugs from other countries.

Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said the plan will provide 2 ways to import prescription drugs.

“This is not about personal importation, this is not about buying drugs over the internet,” Azar said. “The first one would allow states, pharmacies and wholesale distributors to come in with plans of how they could basically bring drugs in.”

The second way would allow pharmaceutical companies to import their own drugs but skip the middlemen.

Leigh Purvis with AARP applauds the plan which would allow for importing drugs only from US government-approved manufacturers.

“There is certainly a potential for some very high savings if this were to go into effect,” Purvis said.

While some groups are applauding the move it may not be a realistic plan.

Critics say Azar last year called the idea of importing prescription drugs a gimmick.

When asked if and why he changed his mind, Azar said he’s “been working with the governors of Florida, Colorado, Vermont and Maine on their plans.”

But Joelle Walker with the Canadian Pharmacists Association said she’s not sure Azar’s plan will work.

“Canada’s drug supply is not in a position to support a country that is 10 times our size,” Walker said.

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