Suggestions to allow drug importation from Canada or other countries as a solution to America’s high brand-name drug prices are nothing new. An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal highlighted how Canada has had drug shortages in recent history and discussed the further negative impacts that allowing Americans to import drugs from Canada would have on their drug supply. President of the Partnership for Safe Medicines Dr. Marv Shepherd wrote a letter to the editor showing not only his support for what the authors said but also to stress that they had not gone far enough in assessing the threat to Canada’s drug supply if Americans started using their country as our medicine cabinet.
Dr. Shepherd examined this very issue in his 2010 paper The Effect Of US Pharmaceutical Drug Importation On The Canadian Pharmaceutical Supply. With renewed suggestions from politicians to legalize drug importation, he felt it was time to reexamine what impact drug importation would have in Canada. Seven years has not changed his conclusions.
Shepherd states that if politicians in the U.S. were to legalize drug importation, the effects could be devastating to individuals and Canada’s health system. There would be an increased risk of substandard or counterfeit drugs being imported into Canada to make up for any shortfalls due to drugs being sent to the U.S. The increase that U.S. demand would have on Canada’s drug supply could have the unforeseen consequences of driving up drug prices. Canada could even go so far as to ban or limit how much medicine could be sent to the U.S.