Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins issued this statement following today’s announcement by the Administration that it is exploring how to safely import prescription drugs from other countries in the event of a dramatic price increase for a drug produced by one manufacturer and not protected by a patent. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asked Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to establish a working group on this topic.
“I appreciated receiving a call from Secretary Azar on the importation of prescription drugs from countries whose safety standards match ours. I have long advocated for safe reimportation as a means of lowering prices for consumers. The Administration’s decision to examine how to safely import certain sole-source prescription drugs in response to egregious price increases is an encouraging step in the right direction.
“The average price of prescription drugs is much lower in Canada and Western Europe than in the United States, with the price of some drugs in Maine being three times that of the same drugs that are available only miles away in a Canadian drug store. I have long supported efforts to allow American consumers to benefit from international price competition on prescription drugs by permitting FDA-approved and safely manufactured medicines to be imported into this country.
“Last Congress, I led a bipartisan investigation into the egregious price spikes of decades-old off-patent drugs with Senator Claire McCaskill. One of the recommendations in our report was to allow the targeted importation of off-patent drugs to combat major price increases and provide prompt price relief. I am pleased that the FDA is working toward implementing this policy that will improve both the affordability and accessibility of lifesaving medications.”
As the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, Senator Collins has led efforts in Congress to increase the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs.
In 2015, Senators Collins and McCaskill launched the landmark bipartisan Senate investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to egregious price spikes for certain generic, off-patent drugs. They released a report on their investigation in 2016. Following their investigation, Senators Collins and McCaskill authored a bill to improve generic competition and lower the cost of prescription drugs that was signed into law as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act.
Moreover, earlier this year Senator Collins held hearings focused on the rising costs of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and on the soaring price of insulin, the average price of which nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. Additionally, Senator Collins introduced a bill in March to ban pharmacy gag clauses, an egregious practice that some companies use to conceal prices from patients at the pharmacy, that is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Health Committee next week.