Two Studies Confirm Drug Importation Would Decimate The Canadian Drug Supply

GlobeNewswire reported on two new studies in Canadian Health Policy that each concluded that should drug importation be legalized in the U.S., it would have a catastrophic impact on Canada’s prescription drug supply. The first study was an update by PSM Board President Marv Shepherd, Ph.D. to his 2010 and 2018 studies that looked at how long Canadian drug supplies would last if various percentages of Americans started purchasing their prescriptions from within the legitimate Canadian drug supply. The second study by Brett Skinner, Ph.D. examined 46 branded drugs likely to be targeted for drug importation by U.S. states. 

According to Dr. Shepherd’s study, the population of the U.S. is nine times larger than that of Canada, and as of 2018, the U.S. filled six times the number of prescriptions every day as are filled in Canada. If only 20% of U.S. prescriptions were filled from Canada’s drug supply, Canada would run out of drugs in 182 days. If the percentage of U.S. prescriptions increased to 50%, it would only take 100 days for Canada to no longer have any prescription drugs left. Dr. Shepherd also looked at if only prescriptions for branded drugs were filled from Canada’s drug supply. Given those parameters, it would take 281 days for Canada to be out of branded prescription drugs if 20% of U.S. branded prescriptions were filled there. If 50% of U.S. branded prescriptions were filled by Canada, the country would be out of those drugs in 194 days. 

Dr. Skinner’s analysis showed how proposals to allow drug importation in the U.S. posed an urgent threat to Canada’s drug supply as well as specific patient populations. Skinner’s results mirrored those of Shepherd: the Canadian drug supply cannot support the increased demand that a full-scale U.S. drug importation would create. Of the 46 drugs examined by Skinner, most would have their supply exhausted in 90 days. Twenty-three would be exhausted in just over 30 days, and many would not last beyond 14 days. The average number of days that the 46 drugs would last was only 43.

When asked about the two studies, PSM executive director Shabbir Imber Safdar said, “The excellent studies by Drs. Shepherd and Skinner show that Canada does not have the reserves to act as America’s medicine cabinet. Proposals to allow drug importation are a threat to Canadian and American patients alike.”