Oregon - CCAGW Urges Opposition to Drug Importation Legislation | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Oregon - CCAGW Urges Opposition to Drug Importation Legislation

State Action

January 27, 2020

Republican Leadership
Oregon House of Representatives
900 Court St. NE,
Salem, Oregon 97301

Dear Republican Leadership,

On January 22, 2020, the Portland Business Journal reported that Rep. Kim Wallan (R) plans to “reintroduce a bill to require the Oregon Health Authority to design a program to import wholesale prescription drugs from Canada.” While the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) has not yet seen the text from this legislation, we assume it will be like a bill introduced last year, H.B. 2689, which our organization opposed. That bill authorized the Oregon Health Authority to design a drug importation program and act as a licensed drug wholesaler to import price-controlled drugs from Canada. Rep. Wallan’s bill would be another bad piece of legislation that will have unintended consequences if it should become law. On behalf of the 32,381 CCAGW members and supporters in Oregon, I ask that you oppose any legislation that would import drugs from Canada or any other country.

Purchasing pharmaceuticals outside of the current closed U.S. system introduces enormous risk to the drug supply chain.  It would open the door to scam artists who would take advantage of such a program and sell counterfeit and dangerous drugs. State officials are not equipped to assess whether imported drugs are pure and unadulterated without an enormous investment to sample the purity, chemical composition, and potency of all imported drugs.

Legislation like this assumes Canadian officials and pharmacies would even sell their drugs to state governments in the United States. At a January 17, 2020 hearing in the Washington State Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care, the Canadian group Best Medicines Coalition Chairman John Adams testified about a similar drug importation bill that had been introduced. He said his coalition of 28 nonprofits advocates for Canadian citizens to have timely access to medicines that are safe and effective and that his nation of 38 million does not have a large enough supply to provide pharmaceuticals to U.S. citizens, particularly since Canada is already experiencing drug shortages.

An opinion piece in the January 16, 2020 Canadian Financial Post stated that drug manufacturers “are unlikely to permit their Canadian wholesalers or distributors to undercut their prices in the U.S. by exporting drugs that they have supplied specifically for the Canadian market. Indeed, the wholesalers may be contractually prohibited from exporting any product they purchase from manufacturers” and the Canadian “federal government has already vowed to protect Canadians’ drug supplies and access to medication.”

Importing drugs from Canada and other countries that have socialized medicine is simply importing their price controls. It is well-known that price controls create market disruption and result in less innovation and shortages; it is no different for pharmaceuticals. It should be no surprise that Canada’s share of the world’s total pharmaceutical R&D is minuscule compared to the United States.  As a result, the world rides on research paid for by our citizens.

Too much of our current pharmaceutical market is price-controlled, from Medicaid, to the 340B drug discount program, to the mandated 70 percent discount in the Medicare Part D coverage gap (donut hole), to the VA, and various other government-run drug benefit programs. No wonder the pharmaceutical market has been distorted.

It would be better for Oregon state officials to ask their U.S. congressional delegation to create an environment that fosters competition and innovation by holding the Food and Drug Administration’s feet to the fire to make sure generic drug applications are approved in a timely manner and to advocate for better trade deals so that our trading partners pay their fair share of our biopharmaceutical research and development. This would be a far more effective way to help bring down the price of prescription drugs than passing harmful and counterproductive importation bills.


Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

cc: Rep. Kim Wallan

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