The Wall Street Journal reported that drugmakers have raised U.S. list prices by an average of 6.6% on more than 866 medications as of January 20, 2022. So why would Congress consider legislation that robs millions of Americans of safe affordable prescription medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies? A growing number of Americans are sharing their outrage with Congress.
These drug price increases impacted critical medications for life-threatening illnesses, as well as maintenance medications for underlying conditions that impact millions of Americans. AARP reports that brand name drug prices increased an average of 276.8% between 2006 and 2020, compared to the cumulative general inflation rate of 32% during the same period. With 89% of Americans over 65 taking prescription medications, and 1 in 3 Americans skipping medications amid the pandemic, any rise in drug prices can be deadly.
In a callous and ill-timed maneuver, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the DRUGS Act (‘Domain Reform for Unlawful Drug Sellers Act, S.3399) a bill attacking the only safe and affordable option that millions of Americans depend on to access their critical medications – prescription importation from licensed international pharmacies. Rubio, Klobuchar and the special interests funded by big drug companies backing the DRUGS Act claim that the bill would address illegal sales of opioids online. However, the bill fails to even mention the words opioids or fentanyl. This bill is only the latest in a series of pharma front groups’ shameless attempts to exploit the opioid crisis to attack prescription importation.
Lenny Ayzikovich in St. Paul, Minnesota, is one of the thousands of Americans outraged enough by the DRUGS Act and rising drug prices to write to Congress. In a letter to his Senators and Representative, Lenny shared, “the DRUGS Act would rob Americans like me of one of the only avenues for safe and affordable prescription medications: licensed international pharmacies. I buy my stomach medication Dexilant (the only one still working for me after many years) from Canada. My insurance doesn’t cover it, and without insurance, it’s around $900 for a three-month supply in the U.S. The same medication from Canada costs $200.”
The CDC estimates more than 5 million Americans, like Lenny, import medications. RAND reports that drug prices in America are 2.56 times the price of drugs in other countries. Analysis from CPPI shows Americans can find savings of 50% – 90% on brand-name prescription drugs at licensed Canadian pharmacies compared to the lowest prices at leading U.S. pharmacy competitors such as Amazon, CVS, GoodRx, and Walgreens.
A rising number of Americans are leaving prescriptions unfilled and are under more financial distress when faced with health and medication costs with dire consequences. Congress can and must do better to ensure that Americans have access to safe and affordable prescription medications.