Prescription Drugs: Canada Is Not the Answer


It’s no surprise that far-left politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren would support dangerous policies.

But what is surprising is that some Republicans in Florida have joined them in backing one of their signature “Medicare for All” policy proposals — drug importation.

It’s a plan that may sound good at first, but in reality would taint our country’s drug supply and threaten the lives of seniors.

Florida Republicans are on the verge of approving a bill that would allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. It’s passed the state House and will soon be up for a vote in the Senate. Rising conservative star Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled his support for the plan.

It’s a strange turn of events since the plan is the brainchild of Sanders and the federal legislation to allow drug importation is sponsored by Warren.

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Proponents of this policy have good intentions. They see drug importation as a way to lower drug prices, a goal we all share, but this isn’t the way to do it.

Unfortunately, this plan won’t achieve lower prices but will threaten the drug supply of millions of seniors. The consequences could be life-threatening.

Here’s the problem: allowing the importation of drugs from Canada doesn’t ensure that Americans get the same ones dispensed at Canadian pharmacies. Canada is a country of just 37 million people — they don’t have a massive excess capacity to ship here.

Compare that to a population of 21 million for Florida.

Canada isn’t large enough to supply America, let alone Florida, with the medications we need. That’s why HHS Secretary Alex Azar has called drug importation a “gimmick.”

In fact, Canadians already face drug shortages, and Canadian drug supplies would be “exhausted” in just 183 days if even just 20 percent of Americans turned to Canada for drugs. Canada doesn’t have the excess capacity to ship drugs to America, so it won’t lower prices here.

At the same time, it could put seniors at risk of using counterfeit medications that have dangerous side effects. The reasoning is straightforward: dubious companies “operating” in Canada will use the system to their benefit, and export “Canadian” drugs to America without FDA inspection.

Shady drug companies from China, Tukey and India — countries with lax laws and regulations — will use Canada as a way-station for bringing counterfeit drugs to America.

Even the Canadians admit as much.

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Leona Aglukkaq, former Canadian Minister of Health, put it best when she explained that, “Under [Bernie] Sanders’s plan, Canada would simply serve as an intermediate transshipment point for unapproved drugs heading to the United States. Canadian authorities do not inspect every shipment of products headed for the U.S. marketplace to ensure that packages don’t contain adulterated, counterfeit or illegal drugs. Canada does not have the resources to undertake such comprehensive searches.”

These concerns are why law enforcement and the FDA oppose drug importation, and why the Trump administration has not backed Florida’s plan.

Safety issues should be more than enough for Florida Republicans to balk at this proposal.

Fortunately, there’s still time to change course.

For the sake of our seniors, let’s hope they do.

Saul Anuzis is the president of the 60 Plus association and former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

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