Biden to direct moves on drug importation, call for plan to lower drug prices
President Biden on Friday will direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to work with states on importing prescription drugs from Canada, and direct officials to develop a “comprehensive plan” to lower drug prices in 45 days.
The moves are part of the health care section of a wide-ranging executive order on promoting competition in the economy that Biden is poised to sign on Friday afternoon.
Allowing imports of cheaper drugs from other countries was part of Biden’s health care plan during the campaign, but Friday’s move is a step forward to take action on that front.
The Trump administration also put forth rules for states to apply to allow drug imports, and Florida in particular has expressed interest, but no imports have actually begun. Drugmakers have also filed a lawsuit to block the rules.
The Biden administration also appears to be considering other actions to lower drug prices as part of the “comprehensive plan,” though it is not clear what steps those will be.
Congress is currently working on sweeping legislation to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, and Biden administration officials had previously pivoted to the congressional effort when asked about action on that front.
The order will also direct the Department of Health and Human Services to consider issuing rules within 120 days to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter.
The order directs the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to revise their guidelines for hospital mergers to “ensure patients are not harmed by such mergers.”
It also encourages the FTC to ban “pay for delay” agreements, where a brand-name drug company pays a generic drug company to delay introducing competition to a certain drug.