Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada

Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada
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A bipartisan group of four senators requested Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Health Care — FDA panel backs boosters for some, but not all Biden administration announces federal support for patients, abortion providers in Texas Biden administration releases B in COVID-19 relief for providers MORE’s support to allow less costly prescription drugs to be imported from Canada. 

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Seven takeaways from California's recall election Live coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate MORE (D-Minn.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation Woman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing MORE (R-Iowa), Angus KingAngus KingSenate backers of new voting rights bill push for swift passage Stacey Abrams backs Senate Democrats' voting rights compromise NY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case MORE (I-Maine) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (R-Maine) sent a letter to the secretary on Monday asking him to back policies permitting states and tribes to import certain prescription drugs from Canada. 

In a letter, the senators argued that personal importation could deliver “a critical solution” to lowering medication costs, a goal of the Biden administration. The letter cited that almost 30 percent of adults say they don’t take their prescribed medications due to the cost.

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“Americans should be able to obtain affordable medications, and expanding access to safe and affordable drugs in Canada can make a difference by providing direct relief to the millions of Americans who are struggling to afford the increasing cost of prescription drugs,” the letter reads. 

“As the Administration considers options for lowering the cost of prescription drugs for patients, we urge your support for permanent solutions that will allow Americans to safely and personally import their medication,” the senators wrote.

The senators specifically called on Becerra to support the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, reintroduced by Klobuchar and Grassley in February, that would permit drugs to be imported from the northern country. 

The four lawmakers also referenced Biden’s executive order from earlier this month that instructed his administration to cooperate with states on developing programs for this Canadian importation.

Biden had previously campaigned on permitting cheaper medications to be imported. 

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Former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE also signed an executive order last year to accelerate plans to allow states to bring in specific drugs from Canada, although the imports haven't started.

Democrats have ramped up pressure in Congress for drug pricing reforms with the majority in both chambers, particularly pushing to allow Medicare permission to negotiate prices to reduce medication costs.

But Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry have strongly opposed Medicare negotiation to lower costs, saying it would suppress innovation and research into new drugs.