Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why importing drugs from Canada makes no sense (in 30 seconds)

People in the United States see the lower prescription drug prices in Canada for literally the exact same drugs that they are paying several times more for. It begs the question, "Why can't we just import prescription drugs from across the border? I can see their drug labels from my house."

Canada's drugs are cheaper for a reason. The Canadian federal government negotiates with the pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the whole country for brand name drugs and are now beginning to negotiate for generics as well. They go to the drug companies and say, "if you won't charge less to our patients, then you can't sell your product here at all".

The United States does not do this. Instead Congress has legally forbid the Secretary for Health and Human Services from negotiating on behalf on all Medicare patients. US patients must accept the market rate for the drugs instead of a much less expensive negotiated rate. As one might imagine, an individual has next to no negotiating power as compared to a collective group.

If the US does import drugs from Canada, then we send a loud message of: "We don't trust our own government to negotiate drug prices, but please let a foreign government do it for us."

That is just downright silly.

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