Drug importation is always presented as a way to reduce costs, but the truth is it is the wrong solution and will have the costly impact of endangering drug safety and creating a huge counterfeit medication problem.
“Safe” importation of medications is an oxymoron. It may sound good and it may sound like a cost saver, but it’s actually very risky. For example, the reality is that many drugs labeled as “Canadian” and thus assumed to be safe, are usually counterfeit or tainted medications that come from third world countries. In some cases, the medications are simply ineffective and have no value as medication. But if you need medication and think you’re getting the needed medication at a lower cost, but you’re actually getting what amounts to a placebo, your health is at risk and you’re not saving any money at all. In fact, you’re wasting money. You might as well eat chalk and burn cash. It would provide the same benefit.
And in other cases, the medications are not merely ineffective, they are actually tainted and do great harm. For years, healthcare policy analysts and health safety experts have produced a cacophony of powerful objections to importation based on worries about safety and pricing. Even many government reports make it clear that drug importation is a risky business and that there are better ways to keep costs in check. The health, legal and economic dangers posed by drug importation makes it dangerous public policy.
This isn’t just our opinion, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office carefully reviewed Senator Bernie Sander’s proposal for drug importation in 2017 and determined that it would have minimal to no impact on federal expenditures.
Additionally, drug “importation” would actually import Canada’s price-controlled, government-run healthcare system and kill off the incentives to develop new medicines. If we hope to find the next generation of cures and treatments to many of the terrible diseases that have plagued mankind for millennia, then we need to encourage innovation, investment and research — not stifle it.
Simply stated, drug importation may have a certain rhetorical appeal, but when the shiny stylistic glitter is wiped away, it becomes clear that the proposal is dangerous and potentially deadly for American patients. Paying a lower cost for so-called medications that aren’t medications or in some cases are poisonous, is not a cost savings.
Plus it will stifle and hamstring future innovation and development of new medications. None of that is a good idea, and none of that will help American’s stay healthy or end up reducing healthcare costs.
Drug importation is a bad and risky idea. It keeps getting recycled and some pretend that it isn’t a completely discredited idea. It is time to stop recycling failed ideas that pose real risks to Americans. It is time to look to encourage innovation and research.