The United States is facing another surge in prescription drugs costs, which has them looking to Canada once again. Some US states are considering importing medication in bulk from Canada, where prices are kept down due to government price limitations.
The first state looking to do this is Vermont. They are currently debating legislation that would allow them to create an agency that would go to Canada to purchase popular, high-cost prescription medications in bulk, and then those medications would be distributed to pharmacies all throughout the state.
Ginny Lyons, the state senator of Vermont was the one who sponsored the bill, saying that because the United States doesn’t have price controls like Canada that “pharmaceutical companies are getting away with murder, people are making choices between food and prescription drugs. We can’t allow that to continue, so we’re trying to take matters into our own hands.”
Because the federal government would have to approve any kind of bulk importation program, Lyons is hoping that her bill, along with others made in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah, will cause Congress to act and consider legislation that will prevent pharmaceutical companies in the United States from raising prices too high.
Although people in the United States have had to pay significantly more for their prescription drugs than Canadians for many years, an analysis published by Health Affairs predicts that the cost of medication will grow faster than all other healthcare spending over the next ten years. This causes big problems for states.
More than 70 million people in the United States, most of them disabled or poor get their insurance through the public health program Medicaid. When pharmaceuticals increase drastically each year, it makes it very hard for states to budget their Medicaid spending.
Although officials at Health Canada have heard about the proposals, they have yet to comment. If approved, this could help Canada’s pharmaceutical prices come down. Even though the prices in Canada are cheaper than in America, it is still one of the most expensive countries to purchase medication.
A report put together by a professor at the University of British Columbia found that last year over a million Canadians had to sacrifice utilities or groceries in order to afford their medication.