Monday, December 19, 2016
Congressional request to President Obama offers chance for cooperative effort by Obama-Trump to lower prescription drug prices via personally imported medicines
In an interview upon his selection as TIME Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year,’ President-elect Donald Trump said that his intent remains to “lower prescription drug costs” although he admitted that he still hadn’t decided upon just how to do it.
The President-elect has also repeatedly expressed his ‘admiration’ for President Obama, admitting that he was surprised at the good, even friendly, relationship that is emerging between them.
This is ironic since during the Campaign, Candidate-Trump vowed to rescind every Executive Order issued by President Obama. Since then, President-Elect Trump has softened his stance, saying he would only rescind those that he considered ‘illegal.’
Therein lies what may be the key to opening the door to allow President-elect Trump to achieve his goal to lower prescription drug costs, thanks to his new-found friendly relationship with President Obama.
And, in yet another twist in this strangest of Presidential elections, he may actually offer President Obama a chance at establishing what could be a part of the Obama legacy—a role in which both men can exhibit the type of bi-partisanship that would reflect favorably upon them, all the while offering millions of Americans price relief from the abusive pricing practices of Pharma, i.e., a recognition of the rights of American patients to have access to safe, affordable and authentic personally imported medicines.
The opportunity is actually created by an October 2016 letter from 33 Democrat Congressmen to President Obama requesting him to use executive action on a number of fronts to lower prescription drug costs, and to prevent further outrageous unmerited price increases by Pharma.
It has become increasingly apparent that personal importation of prescription medicines is the only readily available and most immediate relief to Pharma pricing practices as evidenced by the Representatives’ request to “… encourage your administration to explore implementing drug importation rules that are already part of U.S. law. Under authority from the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify the importation of prescription drugs from other countries under specific qualifications. This regulatory action would pose no risk to public health and safety and could result in a significant reduction in the cost of prescription drugs to American families.”
It is significant that the letter indicates the complete lack of adherence by both the Bush II and Obama Administrations to the intent of Congress by allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ignore the specific letter of the law.
That is why we urge the President and the President-elect to take the actions necessary to compel the Secretary to act , and to do so in a fair and partial manner that reflects that personally imported authentic medicines at potential savings of up to 60 percent are being denied to Americans, or for those who do engage in personal importation of their medicines, their medicines are subject to potential seizure and destruction only because of labeling differences that are required by the countries of origin of the imported medicine. The seizures can take place irrespective of the authenticity of the medicines.
By issuing the executive order requested by the Congressional letter, President Obama will act on behalf of millions of Americans who simply cannot afford their medicines. An unaffordable medicine is unavailable in and of itself because of the price, and a medicine that is not taken because it is unavailable is of no value.
For the President-elect, cite your campaign pledge to support personal importation, let President Obama know of your support of his issuance of an Executive Order to ensure that unelected bureaucrats are subject to the clearly expressed intent of Congress, not the whims of a particular industry segment, that there will be attempts to set-aside such an Executive Order by your administration.
In 2008, then-Candidate Obama pledged to support the personal importation of safe, affordable brand-name prescription medicines from licensed-registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries whose standards of safety and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.
It seemed at the time that personal importation, which had long been practiced by millions of Americans seeking the health benefits made possible by access to their maintenance medicines was finally about to be a part of a policy to lower prescription drug costs.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), a long-time supporter of Personal Importation, told me, after a hearing she was holding in St. Louis on Medicare Advantage plan abuses, that legislation allowing personal importation of medicines would be one of the first pieces of legislation that the newly elected President Obama would sign, and it would be on his desk within 48 hours of his inauguration.
That never happened.
Instead, President Obama Administration, faced with challenges on a number of fronts, and acting in the belief that his legacy would be based upon passage and implementation of a sweeping health care bill, engaged in secret, behind-closed-doors meetings with the very forces of Pharma who agreed to not launch ‘Harry-Louise’ type of campaign that derailed ‘Hillarycare’, in return for shaping many provisions of the law that were favorable to it.
For President-Elect Trump, cooperation and support of such an Executive Order will illustrate that you are concerned about the health and well-being of Americans, and that you recognize that lack of access to affordable medicines is the wind that reaps the whirlwind of Pharma pricing abuses, and consequences of costly, even possibly life-threatening health conditions that could have been avoided.
The full Subtitle of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 follows:
Subtitle C: Importation of Prescription Drugs - (Sec. 1121) Directs the Secretary to promulgate regulations permitting pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. Sets forth specified provisions respecting: (1) importer and foreign seller recordkeeping and information requirements; (2) qualified laboratory drug testing; (3) registration with the Secretary of Canadian sellers; and (4) approved labeling.