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July 2021 - Newsletter #4

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Wholesale Importation of Canadian Drugs: Real Savings for Americans or Just More Politics?

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National politicians (including both the current and former president) and various state politicians have proposed schemes to bulk import Canadian drugs and distribute them through pharmacies in the United States. Proposals like these have been put forth for the better part of the last two decades in one form or another but are receiving more attention recently as more citizens have become aware and concerned that Americans pay exorbitant prices for prescription drugs.

We are routinely asked for our thoughts on these proposals from our customers and we often hear their views on about these proposals too. A Boston-based writer and researcher focusing on history, health and politics, Natalie Shure just penned an article, “Buying Drugs from Canada Won’t Solve America’s Obscene Health Care Costs”, which highlights what we believe are good reasons why these wholesale drug importation proposals may represent adept politicking to attract headlines and the attention of voters but are unlikely to deliver any real prescription drug savings to American consumers.

Ms. Shure aptly notes that:

… larger-scale [drug] importation is a heavier lift than individual trips across the border. Not only do rules allowing importation bar biologic drugs like insulin, they demand complicated administrative moves, like contracting with private wholesalers to negotiate with Canadian counterparts. Even more of a problem is the fact that importation depends on the consensual participation of two players who hate the idea: drug manufacturers and Canadian officials. The former are unlikely to agree to ship a much larger supply to Canada that they know will be sold southward for cheap to undercut profits in their most lucrative market, and the latter have already publicly stated they won’t compromise their own supply by overpromising exports to a nation 10 times Canada’s size. Importation is a sort of workaround, rather than a legitimate confrontation with [drug] industry power or flexing of regulatory muscle, so there are few mechanisms to combat these very obvious problems.

Canadian drug wholesalers have confirmed they won’t bulk ship Canadian drugs to American wholesalers or pharmacies and simply won’t participate in these schemes while the Canadian government has already stated that they will block the export of these drugs. This should be of little surprise as nobody can truly expect Big Pharma companies to ramp up Canada’s prescription drugs supply only to have these lower priced drugs sold back to Americans for less than the current U.S. prices, especially when Big Pharma has and has and continues to actively frustrate the supply of Canadian drugs by Canadian pharmacies to Americans, as widely reported in the media in the past and as directly experienced by us to this very day.

In the meantime and for the last 20+ years, millions of shrewd consumers have continued to rack up actual savings through their own personal importation of prescription drugs through international and Canadian online pharmacies, like NorthWestPharmacy.com. That’s why it is disappointing to many of our customers that so many politicians are chasing these apparently doomed bulk importation schemes while missing out on the opportunity to facilitate personal prescription drug importation by Americans, through initiatives like stopping credit card brands from preventing Americans from using their credit cards when buying drugs from legitimate certified online pharmacies outside of the United States at lower prices.

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