Trump Administration Considers Allowing Some Drug Imports
By Christopher Talgo
U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a working group to weigh the risks and rewards of drug importation, which is currently banned in the United States.
The directive comes in response to escalating drug prices and shortages of a variety of medications on which Americans depend, HHS stated in a press release . . .
Sally C. Pipes, president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Health Care News, says she’s concerned about the quality of imported drugs if the program should expand beyond the current proposal under a future president.
“There is no way to import drugs from abroad while guaranteeing patients’ safety,” Pipes said. “It would be nearly impossible to source medicines only from reputable suppliers in developed countries. An FDA investigation of illegally imported medications revealed that half of the pills were advertised as Canadian, but 85 percent originated in other countries. There’s a risk that if the FDA opens the door to limited importation now, a future administration may greatly expand the program and permit importation in nearly all cases.”
Pipes recommends trying deregulation first.
“The way to reduce drug prices in the United State is to reduce regulatory burdens placed on manufacturers and to promote competition in the drug industry,” Pipes said.