Why Trump’s drug importation plan won’t work

The Trump administration is pursuing a plan to allow the importation of certain drugs from Canada and other countries in an effort to lower drug prices. But the plan isn’t likely to work, according to Sally Pipes, president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute, who penned an op-ed in Forbes.

The proposed plan was released at the end of 2019 and already faces several challenges, including from Canada and the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. However, according to Piper, the plan simply won’t work to save drug costs and could increase potential dangers to patients with an influx of counterfeit drugs.

“Drug importation will deliver minimal, if any, savings to patients,” Pipes wrote.

Part of the problem is that some of the most in-demand medicines that have sky-high prices in the U.S., such as insulin, are excluded from the plan. In addition, generics are already cheaper in the U.S. than Canada in many cases, and generics make up about 90% of prescriptions filled in the U.S. So, the drug importation plan would only have a minimal impact.

Another part of the plan allows U.S. manufacturers to import products intended for foreign markets and sell them in the U.S. at a lower cost. But, as Pipes argued, “it’s unclear why any manufacturer would jump through those hoops to sell its products for less than the prevailing U.S. price.”

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