Why Trump's call to curb drug imports could raise — not lower — drug prices

While president-elect Donald Trump called for the return of drug production to the U.S. as a strategy to lower drug prices during his Wednesday press conference, some experts say any move to limit drug imports could actually raise prices, reports the New York Times.

Drug imports usually help keep costs low, since a majority of the imports are cheaper generic versions of pricey brand name medicines, according to the report. Cutting back on the importation of these drugs could force many Americans to turn to more expensive brand name options.

Over the past five years, American imports of statins, anticonvulsants and insulins have doubled, and imports of proton-pump inhibitors have increased sixfold, according to an analysis of trade data for four common families of pharmaceuticals. Generics made up a large portion of the imports.

"Although we have been expanding our exports to the U.S., we are not raising costs as much, which helps the Americans to be able to afford the same medicines at a cheaper rate," said Snehashish Sen, manager of costing at the Indian generic drug manufacturing firm Cipla, according to the Times. "I do not see how we are hurting the sector. In fact, by making medicines more affordable, we are helping Americans."

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