We reported earlier this year that President Trump issued executive orders to lower prescription drug prices under Medicare by linking them to rates paid in other countries and allowing Americans to buy medication imported from Canada.
Officials in Canada said at that time that this would not be an effective approach to reducing drug prices in the U.S. since the Canadian market is small, representing only 2% of global pharmaceutical sales, compared to 44% south of the border.
Now, the government of Canada is banning drug manufacturers and distributors from shipping any Canadian drugs that might be at risk of shortage to the United States.
The order is a direct response to the President’s efforts to greenlight the importation of drugs from Canada.
“Our health care system is a symbol of our national identity and we are committed to defending it. The actions we are taking today will help protect Canadians’ access to the medication they rely on,” said Patty Hajdu, Canada’s minister of health.
Canada’s order will not prevent Americans from crossing the border to buy cheaper drugs; it doesn’t affect sales made by brick and mortar pharmacies, according to a fact sheet released by the Canadian government.
Where this leaves the President’s policy at this point is not clear, but it is highly unlikely the program will be able to move forward while Trump is still in office. Whether President Biden will withdraw the plan or seek to modify it through negotiations with Canada remains to be seen.