GOP senators press Obama on prescription drug imports

GOP senators press Obama on prescription drug imports
© Getty Images

Two top Republicans are urging the Obama administration to open up access to imported prescription drugs to prevent steep hikes in drug prices.

Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' Drug prices are a matter of life and death Senate panel to hear from pharmacy middlemen on drug prices MORE (Iowa) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLou Dobbs: Political criticism of McCain 'not an exhumation of his body' Trump rips McCain, says he gave Steele dossier to FBI for 'very evil purposes' The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game MORE (Ariz.) sent a letter on Monday asking Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to use her power under existing federal regulations to allow patients to directly purchase certain drugs, particularly those that have been subject to sharp price increases.


“Given the priority that voters place on addressing the high cost of prescription drugs, we believe that it is time Congress and the Administration work together to take concrete steps to address pricing abuses,” Grassley wrote in a statement.

The senators said the Obama administration should specifically allow patients to import drugs that have been subject to steep increases in cost – such as the pill from Turing Pharmaceutical that rose from $13.50 to $750 overnight.  

The move, they argue, would not take a change in federal law. Under existing rules, Burwell can issue waivers to individuals who wish to purchase prescription drugs overseas.

McCain and Grassley have both been strong critics of the Obama administration’s prescription drug importation policy, arguing for an approach they say would save consumers money.

During his first presidential campaign, Obama vowed to allow importation from developed countries such as Canada.

He drew criticism during the passage of the ObamaCare, when the importation policy was left out to attract participation from the pharmaceutical industry.