Industry group wants FDA to stop drug importation study

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A coalition of insurers and drug manufacturers wants the Trump administration to stop its research into importing certain prescription drugs from foreign countries.

The Council for Affordable Health Coverage, which represents insurers, employers, pharmacy benefit managers and drug companies, said it wants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to disband an agency group examining drug importation.

In a letter sent to FDA and first shared with The Hill, the group said drug importation is a “risky scheme” that gambles with patient safety.

{mosads}“Consumers would be well served by FDA disbanding the drug importation work group and instead convening stakeholders and administration personnel to continue a conversation on value-based solutions that do not threaten patient safety,” the group wrote.

The letter noted that drug importation was studied in 2005 under the George W. Bush administration. The group argued that none of the issues raised back then has changed.

“We are unaware of significant changes in either the integrity of or improvements to the distribution chain that would significantly address these safety concerns,” the coalition wrote. “Likewise, no data we have seen would result in lower costs for consumers.”

The Trump administration first announced the working group over the summer. Its focus is on limited importation of drugs that have a dramatic price increase, and that are not protected by patents or exclusivities.

Opening the door to foreign drug importation, even in limited circumstances, would represent a significant step in the administration’s efforts to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

During the campaign, President Trump broke from his party and backed expanded importation of cheaper medicine. Most Republicans, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, have traditionally opposed the idea.

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