Bernie Sanders introduces drug importation bill to lower medicine costs: 5 takeaways

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Tuesday introduced a bill that would allow Americans to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada — as long as they meet specific safety standards, reports The Hill.

Here are five things to know.

1. The bill contains a set of standards meant to ensure consumer safety, according to Sen.

Cory Booker, D-N.J., one of 19 Democratic senators to co-sponsor the bill. If passed, the legislation would require foreign sellers to register with the Food and Drug Administration, and patients would have to show a valid prescription to Canadian pharmacies before purchasing the drugs, among other measures.

2. Sen. Sanders said he expects Republicans to vote in favor of the legislation, as some have previously supported drug importattion, according to the report. In January, 12 Republican senators supported a budget amendment Sen. Sanders proposed on drug importation.

3. The Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America — the drug industry's largest lobby group — opposed the legislation, arguing imported drugs may not meet U.S. safety standards and could taint America's medicine supply, reports The Hill.

4. The lobby group's opposition did not come as a surprise to Sen. Sanders.

"Do we expect the pharmaceutical industry will spend an enormous sum of money to oppose this? Of course we do," Sen. Sanders said. "This is the time. The American people are sick and tired of getting ripped off, and we're going to win this thing."

5. The public health group Partnership for Safe Medications on Tuesday sent a letter to congress calling for it to block the bill, according to the report. Nearly 170 national and local healthcare groups signed the letter, including the American Pharmacists Association and the Pharmaceutical Security Institute.

"Proposals allowing importation would undermine nearly two decades of drug safety policy," the letter read. "Additionally, a large share of medicines that flow through Canada are counterfeit, and while it may seem safe to import medicines from developed countries like Canada and Western Europe, those medicines may have originated from countries all over the world."

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