AMA backs in-person drug importation from Canada

The American Medical Association adopted a policy at its semiannual meeting Nov. 12 that will allow Americans to purchase medicine from Canada in person to fight escalating prescription drug prices in the U.S.

The policy supports the personal purchase and importation of prescription drugs from licensed brick-and- mortar Canadian pharmacies, if there are limits on quantity. The policy does not apply to online ordering or mail-order pharmacies.

"Faced with high out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, some Americans travel to Canada to purchase and import their medications, as it’s oftentimes more affordable," said AMA President Barbara McAneny, MD. "Allowing for the in-person importation of prescription drugs from Canada, if product integrity can be assured, represents a step forward, as well as a measured and conservative option to lower patient costs for prescription drugs."

The policy comes as the Trump administration considers options for lowering prescription drug costs in the U.S., including personal importation. The new policy will help direct AMA support for any legislation on the matter.

In 2016, the U.S. had the highest retail spending on prescription drugs per capita in the world. Canada's retail spending is roughly half the U.S. price.

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