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GOP senators press Obama on prescription drug imports

GOP senators press Obama on prescription drug imports
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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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyNumber of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports Grassley, Cornyn push for Senate border hearing The Hill's Morning Report - GOP pounces on Biden's infrastructure plan MORE (Iowa) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainColbert mocks Gaetz after Trump denies he asked for a pardon Five reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Meghan McCain calls on Gaetz to resign 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.

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“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.