Senate Should Oppose Amendments Allowing Importation of Price Controls

October 19, 2017 — The U.S. Senate will this week vote on the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget resolution, a budget that will unlock pro-growth tax reform. During consideration of this budget, it is possible that Senators may vote on an amendment introduced by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) calling for the importation of price-controlled prescription medicines.

Almost every country in the world has excessive price controls that hinder medical innovation and limit access. Foreign prices are often determined by politicians offering voters seemingly “cheap medicines.” In reality, price controls lead to shortages and rationing. Government price setting would do the same in the U.S. whether imposed directly or indirectly through importation.

America leads the world with more than half of all pharmaceutical and biotech research because we don’t have price controls. 

All Senators should oppose any amendment to the budget calling for the importation of foreign price controls. 

Allowing the Importation of Prescription Medicines Is Not a Free Market Solution: Free trade means transparent prices with no tariffs, barriers, or price controls. Drug importation is the opposite of free trade.

Importation Would Threaten the U.S. Role as a Leader of Medical Innovation: The U.S. is a leader in medical development with more than half of pharmaceutical / biotech research being conducted in this country. This research supports numerous high paying jobs, leading to a stronger economy. Conversely, creating barriers to innovation will threaten these jobs and hurt the economy.

Currently, it costs more than $2.6 billion and takes 10- 12 years to develop a drug, conduct clinical trials, and obtain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for each drug that makes it onto the market. In contrast, almost every country in the world has excessive price controls that hinder medical innovation. In these countries, prices are often determined by politicians offering voters seemingly cheap medicines. In reality, the world rides on U.S. research and taxpayers.

Importation Schemes Are Also Potentially Dangerous to Consumers: The FDA has stated there is no way to assure the safety, authenticity, or effectiveness of imported drugs, or whether the drugs are from the country the packaging claims it to be. Even attempting to construct such a system would be incredibly costly to taxpayers. In addition to drugs being adulterated, they could be deadly. The FDA has long expressed concern with the importation of medicines for these very reasons.