On and off for the last 30 years or so, state and local governments have turned to buying prescription drugs from Canada to offset their healthcare costs. According to an article in the Washington Post several counties around the US are still doing that. Flagler County, Florida is expecting to save $200,000 on brand medications for it employees in 2017. Despite the opposition of the FDA the savings more than offset any headaches caused by regulatory issues. The most surprising and perhaps encouraging part of the article came from a quote by the executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), one of the biggest opponents to personal importation, “If cities and counties have done their due diligence to ensure their employees are getting drugs from reputable sources, then there is nothing wrong with it…If cities and counties have done their due diligence to ensure their employees are getting drugs from reputable sources, then there is nothing wrong with it.”
That’s a big shift from other positions which opposed personal importation entirely. But it is clear people are starting to realize big pharma’s propaganda is wrong on this issue. After all if the NABP is willing to agree local governments can seek lower drug costs using Canadian pharmacies, why not allow this for individuals as well? There are cracks in the anti-importation wall. After all, in terms of the overall US drug supply importation is alive and well. About 70% of the top 40 brand name drugs are imported into the US.
According to the AARP prescription drug relief is much needed; it notes that in 2015 the average yearly cost for one prescription drug was close to $13000. This is a big chunk of income or many seniors. Importation is a way for seniors to offset those costs and retain more of their limited incomes for other costs. But this isn’t just a senior’s issue. This is an issue for taxpayers, who pay for the cost of drugs for municipal employees and therefore it’s an issue for everyone. Luckily for taxpayers in the counties using Canadian pharmacies for their employees’ prescription drugs they’re saving a lot of money.