Source: United States Senator for Maine Susan Collins
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins issued this statement following the announcement by the Administration that it is has released a new proposal to safely import certain lower cost prescription drugs from Canada:
“I appreciated receiving a call from Secretary Azar to discuss a new proposal that would allow for the importation of certain drugs from Canada at a lower price. As a cosponsor of drug importation legislation, I strongly support this rule, which would work hand-in-hand with legislation recently passed in the State of Maine. I am hopeful that over the next six months this proposal will be finalized and that the Department of Health and Human Services will be able to certify the safety of certain classes of drugs so that we will be able to import them into the United States.
“Regrettably, the class of drugs known as biologics, of which insulin is one, will not qualify under the pathway offered to states. A second pathway could allow manufacturers, which have claimed that pharmacy benefit manager contracting practices are driving up insulin prices, to offer lower cost products through importation. I will continue my separate efforts with Senator Jeanne Shaheen to bring down the cost of insulin.
“Importing prescription drugs from Canada will put downward pressure on prescription drug costs, but there is so much more that we need to do to attack the root causes of why prescription drug prices are so high in our country. That will remain one of my chief focuses for the remainder of this Congress.”
As the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, Senator Collins has led efforts in Congress to increase the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs.
In 2015, Senators Collins and McCaskill launched the landmark bipartisan Senate investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to egregious price spikes for certain generic, off-patent drugs. They released a report on their investigation in 2016. Following their investigation, Senators Collins and McCaskill authored a bill to improve generic competition and lower the cost of prescription drugs that was signed into law as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act. In October 2018, Senator Collins’ legislation to prohibit the use of pharmacy “gag clauses” was signed into law after passing both the House of Representatives and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Earlier this year, Senator Collins introduced the Biologic Patent Transparency Act to help block the harmful patent strategies that prevent lower-cost biosimilars from coming to market. Portions of this bill were included in the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019, which passed the HELP Committee last month by a vote of 20-3. The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) of 2019, which passed the Finance Committee last week by a vote of 19 to 9, includes legislation introduced by Senator Collins and Aging Committee Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA) that codifies and builds on the existing CMS Drug Pricing Dashboards to include consumer-friendly information about out-of-pocket costs for individuals enrolled in Medicare. In addition, in May Senators Collins, Rick Scott (R-FL), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the Prescription Drug Price Reporting Act, legislation that would provide much-needed transparency for prescription drug prices. Last week, Senators Collins and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, introduced new legislation to combat the skyrocketing cost of insulin.