Bipartisan bill would cut prescription drug costs by safely importing drugs from Canada

July 24, 2014

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen announced today she is backing bipartisan prescription drug importation legislation to help reduce the costs of prescription drugs for American families. The Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John McCain (R-AZ), would cut costs for consumers by allowing individuals to safely import prescription drugs from Canada, resulting in significant savings for American families. In 2012, average prescription drug prices were twice as expensive in the United States as they were in Canada, with high costs leading some Americans to skip doses or forgo filling important prescriptions altogether.

“There is no reason people in New Hampshire should be paying more than our neighbors to the north for the same prescription drugs,” Shaheen said. “New Hampshire seniors are being squeezed by the high cost of medications, and it’s time we side with them, not the pharmaceutical industry, to lower the costs of prescriptions. For too long this common sense measure has been blocked by the pharmaceutical industry, but it’s now time to act on this plan that could save our seniors hundreds of dollars annually.”

Throughout her career, Shaheen has fought for measures to help reduce the costs of prescription drugs by allowing individuals to safely import the prescription drugs they need. In the 112th Congress, Shaheen was a cosponsor of the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act, which would have allowed for the importation of drugs from Canada and other countries designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to save American consumers money. She also voted on a bipartisan amendment similar to the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act in 2012.

Under the bipartisan legislation, imported prescription drugs, similar to those available on the US market, would have to be purchased from an approved Canadian pharmacy and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Drugs imported under this bill would be the same dosage, form, and potency as drugs in the U.S., but at a significant savings to U.S. consumers. The U.S. spent a total of more than $260 billion on prescription drugs in 2012 alone, and Americans spend an average of almost $1,000 per person per year on pharmaceuticals – roughly 40 percent more than the next highest country.