Consumer Alert: NYS bill could cut prescription drug prices in half by allowing imports from Canada

Consumer Alert: Bill could cut prescription drug prices in half, allowing imports from Canada

Consumer Alert: Bill could cut prescription drug prices in half, allowing imports from Canada

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A bill being considered in the New York State Legislature could possibly cut your drug prices in half. The bill would make it legal for New York to import prescription drugs from Canada — but executing this plan is tougher than it sounds.

Americans pay the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. A study by the Government Accountability Office compared the prices of 20 brand-name drugs sold in America to the prices paid in Australia, France, and Canada. That study found we pay two to four times more, and they say those are conservative estimates.

Our drugs cost more because the government runs the healthcare systems in Canada and other countries, and those governments negotiate prices with the drug companies. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of drug price hikes from 2022 to 2023 revealed that 46% of drug price increases were higher than the rate of inflation, and the average drug price hike in one year was 15.2%.

Drug companies defend the prices charged in the U.S., citing the high costs of research and development. But supporters of the bill argue that drug companies are making huge profits on the backs of Americans, with our elders often bearing the highest burden.

“Eighty-five percent of those people that are 65 and older rely on taking at least one. but over 40 percent take five or more prescriptions. So just multiply that out, that inflation rate, those increases. Not just taking one drug; there’s a good chance you’re taking five,” said Beth Finkel, AARP New York State director

But actually importing prescription drugs from Canada is far more difficult than it seems, as proven by Florida’s attempt. It passed a drug import bill in 2019, but Florida didn’t get approval from the FDA until this year. So might Florida finally start importing? Not likely.

That’s because Canadian drug suppliers and health providers are deeply opposed to any import policy with the U.S. They’re afraid it would cause drug shortages in Canada, and with good reason. Canada has 40-million people. Florida has more than half that number at 22-million. New York State has almost 20-million. And seven other states have passed laws allowing drug importation from Canada as well.

Even if there are no legal or supply blocks, Florida still has to submit pre-import requests to the FDA for each and every drug. So those are the pros and cons of this bill. Now Albany decides — with seven days left in the legislative session — and News10NBC will be watching.

That’s your Consumer Alert.

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