For over 16 years, the Institute for Policy Innovation has released numerous publications warning the risks of such a scheme cannot be overstated—foremost the public health danger, since it is impossible for the U.S. to guarantee the safety of imported drugs.
The following is a history of IPI’s research into the question of whether the U.S. should open its drug market to imported pharmaceuticals.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the Trump administration will reverse a decades-long policy and create a way for Americans to import prescription drugs from Canada.
Azar says that by moving forward on reimportation, the administration is putting Americans patients first. But IPI experts agree that the practice has been illegal chiefly because it puts Americans in harm’s way. Importantly, drug manufacturers cannot guarantee the safety of prescription drugs reimported to the United States.
On Wednesday, July 31, IPI resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews joined U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), CMS chief Seema Verma, and an all-star lineup of health policy experts at the Heritage Foundation to discuss what a Medicare for all, single-payer healthcare system would mean for Americans. (Click here for C-SPAN video.)
“Watching this week’s debates, there are two things the Democrats agree on,” said Matthews. “Number one, the current system is an absolute mess— yet nobody seems to point out that system’s Obamacare.”
What did we learn from four hours of 20 Democratic presidential candidates vying for camera time and voter interest?
1. According to the candidates, apparently the greatest existential threat to America (after Donald Trump) is the large corporations that employ millions of Americans.
2. Several candidates want to boldly open the door to socialized medicine now; the others want to sneak it in through the back door...
On Dallas-Fort Worth’s NBC 5 Lone Star Politics, Dr. Merrill Matthews reacts to the back and forth in Congress over health insurance subsidies and Medicaid block grants to the states in the latest effort to repeal Obamacare. Matthews also discusses what a workable health care reform plan would look like in Texas. Video begins at 11:24.
There's a new proposal from Republicans for a replacement for Obamacare. What's in it? Can it pass? The WBAP Morning News asked IPI resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews.
United Nations bureaucrats want to mess with Texas.
The UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines recently recommended weakening intellectual property protections that drive and sustain biopharmaceutical innovation. Panelists hope their proposals will make it easier for foreign companies to create knock-offs of treatments researched, developed, and manufactured in America and distribute them around the world.
The Panel's misplaced focus on intellectual property resulted in a series of damaging recommendations that would suffocate medical innovation and stunt economic growth in Texas and across the nation -- all without helping patients one bit. Patents and other intellectual property protections are not barriers to access to medicines. The vast majority of treatments on the World Health Organization's Essential Medicines List are no longer protected by patents, yet millions of people around the world do not have access to them.
Innovation is expensive and risky. Bringing a new drug to market takes an average of a decade and costs roughly $2.6 billion. Additionally, only one out of every 5,000 promising compounds makes it out of the lab and through clinical trials to receive FDA approval. And just twenty percent of approved drugs ever turn a profit.
Strong IP protections allow inventors to profit from their rare successes by restricting copies for a limited amount of time. That's essential, especially given that these companies need to earn back not just the development costs of the successful drug, but of all the ones that failed too.
“Reimportation” of prescription drugs is back as an issue, but only because Democrats seek to distract from the effort to repeal and replace Obamcare, according to Politico. By importation we refer to the ability of American consumers to buy their prescription drugs from overseas rather than from domestic sources, and particularly to large-scale importation, such as US drug distributors sourcing their drugs from overseas.
There has always been some cross-border traffic on pharmaceuticals, as drug prices in Canada can be cheaper than in the US. But the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, which came into effect in 2006, has significantly reduced this traffic by making prescription drugs available to seniors at more affordable prices.
There’s a reason why such importation is illegal today under most circumstances, and that’s because of safety. The rate of counterfeit drugs in other countries is staggering, and the only way to keep the counterfeit problem from infecting the US drug supply is through the rigorous inspection and supply-chain regime maintained by the FDA. And the FDA has repeatedly told Congress that it cannot guarantee the safety of drugs entering the US from other countries such as Canada, since it does not inspect those facilities. And when the FDA has been permitted to inspect overseas facilities, the results haven’t been encouraging, such as the extensive and discouraging history of the FDA with Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer Ranbaxy.
Some on the free-market side of the political spectrum argue that importation of prescription drugs is simply a matter of “free-trade,” which at least up until the last few months has been a persuasive argument when presented to Republicans. But, as professor Richard Epstein notes in an IPI publication noted below, importation of prescription drugs is actually a perversion of free trade, in that it rewards other countries for their price controls and socialized medicine systems, rewards them for their disregard for the patents of American drug companies, and would likely create shortages of much needed drugs in poor countries as their drug supply was diverted back to the US.
Now, any clown can come up with an example of a bad patent. Priti has the nerve, however, to use Sovaldi as her example, which is where we are going with all of this.
What is Sovaldi? Sovaldi is a CURE for Hepatitis-C. It’s a revolutionary medicine. First you had Hep-C, and you suffered and you died early. Now, with Sovaldi, you can be cured of Hep-C.
I emphasize this because, before Sovaldi, the critics of the pharmaceutical industry were bashing the industry because it allegedly was focusing on lifestyle drugs for the rich West rather than trying to cure the diseases that plagued millions of people. Greed rather than trying to actually cure diseases. Then Sovaldi comes along and inconveniences their argument.
But you’ve got to hand it to Priti. She has nerve—almost certainly more nerve than you or I have. Because Priti can write something like this:
“We have evaluated Gilead’s patent portfolio and found that, based on US and international patent law, Gilead does not deserve any of its 27 patents for Sovaldi. Both the base and secondary patents for the drug are based on old science and commonly known techniques.”
Really? So there’s no cure for Hep-C. Someone invests millions of dollars and years of expertise and actually manages to invent a cure for Hep-C, but they’re not entitled to a single patent for such a revolutionary invention?
In this video from reporter Jason Whitely at WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, IPI’s Dr. Merrill Matthews says not much has changed in the Veterans Administration 18 months after news of its VA hospital wait-time scandal first broke.
Public Citizen is highlighting a cancer victim who is protesting at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting in Atlanta.
Public Citizen quotes the protester as saying: "When you have breast cancer today, you can’t wait 8 years or 7 years or 6 years for a treatment to become available or affordable. When you have cancer, even a one-year delay in affordable medicine can be a death sentence. That is why we call this proposed provision of the TPP a ‘death sentence clause.’ If it passes, thousands of women like me will die waiting.”