Today, PharmacyChecker announces its strong support for the California Affordable Prescription Drug Importation Act, AB 458, introduced by Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager. AB 458 will increase Californians’ access to affordable prescription drugs by establishing a state-run wholesale drug importation program and permitting safe personal drug importation from Canada and other countries with strong regulations.
“We strongly support Assemblymember Kamlager for taking aim at high prescription drug prices by introducing the California Affordable Prescription Drug Importation Act,” stated Gabriel Levitt, president of PharmacyChecker.com. “Californians, like all Americans, should not have to pay four times more than citizens in other high-income countries for the exact same medications. I believe that strongly regulated wholesale drug importation will lead to meaningful price competition through parallel trade in pharmaceuticals.”
The bill is appropriately based on and subject to current federal law, Section 804 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which already allows wholesale drug importation from Canada and permits personal importation, based on enforcement discretion and waivers to individuals.
“Assemblymember Kamlager recognizes that millions of Americans are already buying medications internationally because they can’t afford it here,” Levitt added. “AB 458 gives those people a voice by finally providing them with express permission to do so.”
According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2.3 million patients a year import prescription drugs for personal use. To respond to that need, PharmacyChecker publishes online pharmacy verification and drug price comparison information. According to the Business Leaders for Healthcare Transformation, PharmacyChecker provides “critical information for consumers buying prescription drugs from other countries.”
PharmacyChecker’s president submitted the letter below to the Honorable Jim Wood, California Assembly Health Committee:
February 11, 2021
The Honorable Jim Wood
Chair, Assembly Health Committee
Capitol Room 6005
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Assemblymember Wood:
On behalf of PharmacyChecker.com, I am pleased to support the California Affordable Drug Importation Act (“AB 458”) by Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager. PharmacyChecker’s mission is to help people find affordable prescription drugs. We verify and accredit safe international online pharmacies, many based in Canada, and compare their drug prices. Americans can use this information if they choose to fill a prescription outside the U.S. when they cannot afford it domestically. We know how incredibly helpful safe importation can be for those falling through the cracks of our broken healthcare system.
AB 458 will increase access to safe and more affordable prescription drugs in Canada by establishing a state-run wholesale drug importation program and permitting safe personal drug importation from Canada and other countries with strong regulations.
Americans pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, 3.5 times more for brand name prescription drugs.[i] The result is that almost 30% of Americans do not fill prescriptions as directed each year.[ii] That’s why, despite federal prohibitions, about 20 million Americans have already imported prescription drugs for personal use.[iii] Uniquely, federal law calls on the FDA to allow these imports despite the prohibitions.[iv] The California bill envisions helping its resident safely avail themselves of this opportunity.
Skyrocketing drug costs also drain employers, who are struggling more than ever to provide health insurance to employees and their dependents.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of our support position.
[i] Mulcahy, Andrew W., Christopher M. Whaley, Mahlet G. Tebeka, Daniel Schwam, Nathaniel Edenfield, and Alejandro U. Becerra-Ornelas, International Prescription Drug Price Comparisons: Current Empirical Estimates and Comparisons with Previous Studies. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2021. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2956.html.
[ii] Ashley Kirzinger, Lunna Lopes, Bryan Wu, and Mollyann Brodie, KFF Health Tracking Poll – February 2019: Prescription Drug, KFF, Mar 01, 2019, https://www.kff.org/health-costs/poll-finding/kff-health-tracking-poll-february-2019-prescription-drugs/ (Last accessed 2/1/2021).
[iii] 3 Bluth, Rachel, “Faced With Unaffordable Drug Prices, Tens Of Millions Buy Medicine Outside U.S.,” Kaiser Health News, December 20, 2016. See https://khn.org/news/faced-with-unaffordable-drug-prices-tens-of-millions-buymedicine-outside-u-s/ [last accessed 2/19/2020].
[iv] Title 21 USC 384 (J)(1).