Less-Expensive Prescription Drugs Available in United States, Task Force Finds
A 13-member federal task force on prescription drug reimportation has found that "if patients will shop around, they, very often, can beat the Canadian price" for medications, FDA Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning William Hubbard said on Tuesday, the AP/Austin American-Statesman reports (Henderson, AP/Austin American-Statesman, 10/6). The HHS Task Force on Drug Importation has held a series of meetings as part of a study -- mandated by the new Medicare law -- on the safety of reimportation and the effect of the practice on prescription drug development. Task force members, who were appointed by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, can consult with other federal officials and earlier this year held six "listening sessions" with consumer advocates, health care purchasers, providers, health care industry representatives, international stakeholders and the public. The task force must report the results of the study to Congress by Dec. 1 (California Healthline, 5/17).
Hubbard also said that FDA has begun a cost-comparison analysis of prescription drug prices in the United States and Canada based on a CanadaRx shipment intercepted earlier this year by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Miami. The 439 packages in the shipment contained 881 prescription drugs with invoices. According to Hubbard, preliminary results of the cost-comparison analysis indicate that half of the medications had less-expensive, FDA-approved generic versions available in the United States. FDA will complete the analysis in the next few weeks (AP/Austin American-Statesman, 10/6).