Burton To Introduce Bill To Reimport Prescription Drugs From Canada for Prisoners
Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco) said Wednesday that he will unveil legislation calling for the reimportation of lower-cost, U.S.-made prescription drugs from Canada for prisoners, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. Under the legislation, the Department of General Services, which buys prescription drugs for the California prison system and youth authority, would be allowed to reimport prescription drugs from Canada. An aide to Burton said that by reimporting the five most commonly purchased prescription drugs from Canada, the state prison system could save as much as $30 million per year. Burton said that he would release more details about the legislation at a press conference Thursday (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/21).
While many states and municipalities want to reimport prescription drugs from Canada, "[not] everyone [can] get a discount" because "below-market pricing has to be borne by someone," Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. Canadian price controls take away the profits that pharmaceutical companies use "to reinvest in the next generation of innovative new drugs," Pipes states, adding, "It would hardly be a victory for the consumer if governments force the sale of pharmaceuticals at prices below that necessary to ensure revenues to develop the next generation of lifesaving and enhancing drugs." In addition, if states and municipalities are able to reimport prescription drugs from Canada, demand will increase while supply will remain flat, which will cause "[s]hortages, higher prices or a combination of the two," Pipes contends. She concludes that if reimportation is legalized, both the United States and Canada will "be worse off" because "Canadians will be denied the benefit of new drugs from the United States," while U.S. residents "pay the heavy price" of a "drug industry that significantly reduces its R&D on new drugs" (Pipes, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.