Why the pharmaceutical industry has 'mixed views' on Biden's latest executive order

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The American Pharmacists Association "has mixed views" on the executive order President Joe Biden signed July 9 to address competition among drugmakers, hospitals, health insurers and hearing aid manufacturers.

The executive order directs the FDA to work with states and tribal programs to import prescription drugs from Canada.

In addition to its drug importation guidance, the order asks the Federal Trade Commission to ban "pay for delay" agreements, under which makers of brand name drugs pay generic drugmakers to keep out of a market. It also calls on HHS to increase support for generic and biosimilar drugs and to create a plan within 45 days to address high drug prices and price gouging.

APhA supports the executive order's measures to combat high drug prices and promote competition in the healthcare industry. The group's CEO, Scott Knoer, PharmD, said pharmacy benefit managers' price gouging "directly contribute to sky high drug prices and limit patients’ abilities to get the care they need when they need it from their pharmacist."

However, the group is "dismayed" about the drug importation guidance provided to the FDA, arguing that importing drugs from Canada will threaten patient safety and create supply chain vulnerabilities. 

"FDA’s drug importation program is smoke and mirrors,” Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, APhA's senior vice president for pharmacy practice and government affairs, said in a statement. "There is no evidence demonstrating that importing drugs from Canada will lower drug costs for patients. What’s costly is the threat to patient safety that these drugs will pose at the pharmacy counter."

PhRMA, another prevalent industry trade group, told The Washington Post July 9 it opposes policies that "risk the health and safety of patients or undermine future innovations," but did not explicitly mention drug importation.

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