Sat | Nov 28, 2020

US sets up first-ever plan allowing medications from Canada

Published:Wednesday | July 31, 2019 | 9:28 AM
In this Tuesday, July 16, 2019, file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar pauses while speaking during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration said Wednesday it will set up a system allowing Americans to legally and safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada for the first time, reversing years of opposition from federal health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medications.

The move is a step toward fulfilling a 2016 campaign promise by President Donald Trump, and it weakens an import ban that stood as a symbol of the political clout of the pharmaceutical industry.

It’s unclear how soon consumers will see benefits, as the plan has to go through time-consuming regulatory approval and later could face court challenges from drugmakers.

It comes as the industry is facing a crescendo of consumer complaints over costs, as well as legislation from both parties in Congress to rein in costs, along with a sheaf of proposals from the Democratic presidential contenders.

Ahead of the 2020 election, Trump is feeling pressure to deliver on years of harsh rhetoric about the pharmaceutical industry.

Making the announcement Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the administration’s decision recognises that prescription drug manufacturing and distribution is now international.

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