The practice of importing back prescription drugs originally manufactured domestically and exported for sale in another country is currently illegal in the US except under FDA regulation in emergency situations.
But politicians on the left and right – including Present elect Donald Trump – have started to revisit the ban, most recently Senator Bernie Sanders who attempted to implement such policy this week by adding an amendment to the 21st Century Cures Act.
The Senate passed the Act itself yesterday. However, Sanders’ ‘Trump proposal’ amendment was blocked by the Republicans, despite it incorporating “exactly what Mr. Trump said he would accomplish as president,” Sanders told Senate colleagues.
Whether Trump will look to implement his healthcare promise to “remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products,” remains – as with his other election pledges – to be seen once the business mogul and Sex and the City star enters the Whitehouse next year.
Wholesalers, whole lot of problems
Drugmakers have historically been averse to such policies and during an analyst presentation yesterday, AmerisourceBergen Corporation said talk of reimportation may be “a little bit of maybe a headline” and would be problematic for wholesalers, regulators and patients.
“How a wholesaler could potentially procure drugs, whether they’re in Canada, Europe and get those back to the US and get those into the supply channel efficiently and effectively I think is quite cumbersome,” said CFO Tim Guttman. “It’s not efficient and there are risks.”
VP Barbara Brungess added despite the impracticalities and legal hurdles to overturn, the primary concern is safety.
“We want to make sure all of the product in the US is authentic because that’s where we are today. And the more sort of variables you introduce to that process, the more risks you introduce,” she told Citigroup analyst Garen Sarafian.
“We don’t test products today, right? We don’t authenticate. Our way of authenticating is just simply to ensure we buy directly from the manufacturer. There’s no way in which product can be introduced from that perspective. So yes, that’s the question, if it comes across the border how do you verify [it] is authentic?”