On Sunday, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders joined diabetes patients as they crossed the border to buy cheap insulin from a Canadian pharmacy. He also talked about the federally negotiated prescription drug prices.
Sanders discussed with families that said they go to great lengths to get their insulin supply because of the rising drug prices in the United States, putting their health at risk.
The senator said, “We should be doing what the Canadians do, and that means sitting down with the drug companies and negotiating a price.”
Democrats, who are seeking to take the White House in 2020, criticized the Trump administration for not pushing through several initiatives to reduce prescription drug prices.
One of the patients, Kathy Sego, purchased a six-month supply of insulin from a pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, spending a little above $1,000. Sego said, “That’s still less than what I pay a month in the United States.”
Another patient named Stephanie Odette said she started to ration her insulin supply when she was in college. She said, “I was hospitalized 74 times… which has got to be some sort of a record.”
Pharma companies say they have to increase drug price to “help offset steep rebates they must offer to get drugs covered by insurance plans.”
Sanders said, “The U.S. government should set drug costs based on the average prices in six other countries, including Canada.
The Democrat also called for the federal government to allow medical providers and others to import drugs to lower the costs.
He said, “I believe we should be able to import into the United States from Canada, and from other countries, FDA-approved medicine, which would substantially lower prices.”
While drug makers ship their medications across borders, they tend to set different prices in different countries. Generally, other companies are not allowed to import drugs meant for other markets.
Several U.S. states have passed bills to allow large-scale drug imports; however, shipments would not be legal without federal approval. Earlier this month, the Health and Human Services said the government was looking at the issue. Reuters reported, “Canadian officials have warned the United States they would oppose any imports that raise drug prices or cause shortages in Canada.”