U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has introduced multiple bills to address the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, including bipartisan legislation with Senator John McCain to allow for the safe important of prescription drugs from Canada
Today, Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and John McCain (R-AZ) urged the new Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to use his statutory authority to fast track the importation of prescription drugs from Canada under certain circumstances as a remedy to recent drastic drug price increases in the United States.
Last month, Klobuchar and McCain introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act that would require the Food and Drug Administration to establish a personal importation program that would allow individuals to import a 90-day supply of prescription drugs from an approved Canadian pharmacy.
"Where these conditions are met, the Secretary should permit importation from Canada with a fast track approval process for the competitor," the senators wrote to Price. "Fast track approval is key because regulatory costs can deter market competition. We urge you to carefully consider the recommendations outlined in this letter, which, if enacted, would provide immediate relief to millions of Americans struggling to afford the increasing cost of prescription drugs."
The senators said the HHS secretary has the authority under current law to allow importation after certifying that the importation would pose no additional risk to the public's health and safety and would result in a significant reduction in the cost of covered products to the American consumer. The senators wrote that the importation can be expressly limited so it does not harm the company that invested in the development of the drug. They urged the secretary to "consider immediately certifying importation of prescription drugs from Canada" when the drug is off patent or no longer marketed in the United States by the initial developer; has had significant, unexplained increases in price; has no direct competition and a competitor drug would help consumers; and is produced by companies with a certain track record.
Klobuchar has championed efforts to address the high cost of prescription drugs, authoring multiple pieces of legislation that would protect American consumers. The bipartisan Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act Klobuchar introduced with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) would crack down on anti-competitive pay-offs in which branded companies pay their generic competitors not to compete as part of a patent settlement. These pay-off settlements (also known as "reverse payments") delay consumer access to generic drugs, which can be as much as 90 percent cheaper than brand-name drugs.
The legislation would stop these anti-competitive pay-off agreements to keep more affordable generic equivalents off the market and make sure consumers have access to the cost saving generics they need. She also introduced the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would allow for Medicare to negotiate the best possible price of prescription drugs.
Klobuchar joined with Senators Grassley, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Mike Lee (R-UT) to introduce the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act to deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace.
The senators full letter is available here.