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Big Pharma loses a court battle in its bid to block states from importing drugs from Canada

In a setback to the pharmaceutical industry, a federal judge has tossed a lawsuit that sought to prevent state governments from importing medicines from Canada. CPPI warns that access to personal prescription importation is critical for millions of American patients who depend upon it for affordable access to medications, and is pleased that personal importation was not impacted by this court ruling.

In a 26-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that drug companies failed to prove they would face a “concrete risk of harm” from a federal rule that would allow states to import medicines.

PhRMA the lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry was joined in the failed suit by the Big Pharma front groups Partnership for Safe Medicines and Council for Affordable Health Coverage.

Judge Kelly stated that any harm is only speculative because there is no guarantee the federal government will approve any state proposal. As a result, the industry did not have standing to file suit.

Personal Not Wholesale Importation Delivers the Savings Patients Need

CPPI has long warned that wholesale/state importation plans could have the unintended consequence of cutting Americans off from the licensed pharmacies on which they depend. State wholesale importation plans add pricey middlemen that cut into patients’ proposed savings.

“Americans are in dire need of affordable access to critical medications that importation can offer, but wholesale state importation is not the solution,” says Jack Pfeiffer, executive director of CPPI. “Only personal importation, which avoids use of pricey middlemen and layers of bureaucracy, can deliver the savings that Americans need, particularly those on fixed incomes.”

Americans importing prescription drugs for personal use report saving 36% more in 2021 than 2020, in survey results released today by the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI). Average annual savings increased by over $1,000 to $3,744 per person in 2021, up from $2,736 in 2020, through purchases from licensed Canadian pharmacies compared to costs in the U.S. Those substantial savings offered to Americans through importation would diminish rapidly under state wholesale plans.

The state wholesale importation plans are laden with extensive requirements that add layers of bureaucracy, which would take years to implement. Moreover, there is extensive opposition to State and tribal wholesale importation programs. Canadian regulatory restrictions, federal approval, and legal challenges remain obstacles for state wholesale importation programs to become operational.

Since 2017, state legislatures across the country have taken over 120 legislative actions to try to reign in high drug costs. Efforts aimed at importation programs have taken hold in six states. There is opposition to the wholesale importation pathway these states are pursuing because it would not deliver the full savings to patients, instead, programs would layer in new middlemen.

None of the State Importation Programs have been enacted as of yet. U.S. and Canadian regulatory restrictions, as well as legal challenges, remain obstacles for these state pursuits.

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