September 29, 2020
The Problems with the Trump Administration’s Drug Importation Plan
Last week the Trump Administration finalized a rule allowing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. AAF’s Director of Human Welfare Policy Tara O’Neill Hayes examines the new rule and concludes that it is unlikely to meaningfully affect the cost of drugs in the United States, for a variety of reasons. She concludes that “relying on Canada for access to more affordable medicines is a fool’s errand.”
Previous research from the American Action Forum noted the numerous ways in which such an endeavor was likely to be unsuccessful, all of which still apply today. Specifically, the Canadian population is one-ninth that of the United States, and fewer Canadians use prescription drugs than Americans, both of which mean their drug supply is significantly smaller than ours; Canadian authorities have an obligation to provide an adequate supply to their citizens and have already expressed an unwillingness to allow exports; drug manufacturers have no reason to provide an excess supply; the law prohibits the importation of much of the most expensive medicines; and Canada does not have access to more than half of the new medicines Americans do. In short, relying on Canada for access to more affordable medicines is a fool’s errand.