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Legislation Represents Significant Step Forward for Americans Desperate for ReliefFrom Skyrocketing Costs of U.S. Prescription Drugs

The Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI) says the bipartisan advancement of personal importation of prescription drugs in the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee FDA Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act is a welcome step for Americans but more work is needed to provide relief for Americans. On Tuesday, June 14, the HELP Committee voted 13-9 to pass a bipartisan deal that may seek to create a regulatory pathway safe personal drug importation from Canada.

“Approving a pathway for Americans to personally import safe and affordable medicines from licensed Canadian pharmacies is the only way for Congress to deliver immediate and much-needed relief from the devastatingly high costs of prescription drugs,” says Jack Pfeiffer, executive director of the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation. “However unintended consequences of this bill remove key protections for the millions of Americans that currently import safe and affordable medicines. The Committee’s FDA Safety and Landmark Advancements Act recognizes the safety and savings Americans receive from prescription drugs imported for personal use via licensed Canadian pharmacies. Americans can’t wait years for relief when a straightforward and immediate avenue for safe and affordable prescription drugs is readily available.”

Key Importation Wins in the Senate FDA Safety and Landmark Advancements Act:

  • Outlines opportunities for the FDA to create regulations for importing prescription drugs for personal use, in a safe way that confirms validity.

  • Affirms a 90 day supply quantity cap for personal prescription importation.

FDASLA Improvements Needed:

  • Inclusion of existing statutory protection for the millions of Americans currently imported medicines for personal use.

  • Mandating a legal pathway for personal importation. The current bill leaves far too much discretion to government bureaucrats to block personal importation.

HELP Committee debate during the FDA user fee bill mark-up demonstrated significant support for importation. Several Senators offered amendments that would have further strengthened and expanded prescription importation. Senator Bernie Sanders fought to advance an amendment that would allow for the importation of drugs from Canada and the United Kingdom, and, after two years, from other countries.

Background on Importation:

  • 78% of the public favors allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs imported from licensed Canadian pharmacies. Importation has broad support across party lines 75% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans favor drug importation from Canada (Figure 1), according to KFF polling from October 2019.

  • More than 4 million Americans already depend on personal prescription importation to ensure access to critical daily medications that treat a variety of conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart conditions.

    • Americans who personally import prescription medications from safe, licensed Canadian pharmacies reported saving an average $3,744 per person in 2021.

    • Brand-name prescription drugs regularly cost 50 to 90 percent more at American pharmacies than they do from licensed Canadian pharmacies.

The next step for this legislation will be a floor vote in the Senate, which is expected before the August recess. After the Senate vote will come reconciliation with the House version of the FDA user fee legislation. Final passage could be expected before the October 21 expiration of current funding.

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