Florida is Steps Closer to Canadian Drug Importation: Why The Bill is Drawing Plenty of Support

Americans are spending more than ever to receive their prescription medication. Since 2010, drug expenditure in the United States of America has increased by more than $100 billion. Per Statista, the total amount Americans spent on their prescription drugs back in 2010 topped out at $253.1 billion.

Spending on prescription drugs has not slowed down, and notably, it leapt up from $265.2 billion in 2013 to $297.9 billion in 2014. The number would make another significant leap the following year as it ended up at $324.5 billion.

For 2017, Americans spent a total of $333.4 billion on their prescription drugs, and that number is projected to hit $344.5 billion for 2018 and $360.3 billion for this year. Part of the reason why spending on prescription drugs has risen so sharply over the last few years is because of how increasingly expensive branded drugs have become.

According to HealthSystemTracker.org, branded drug prices have skyrocketed since 2014. Back in 2014, the average price for branded prescription drugs was right around $100. By the end of last year, that number has crept all the way up to $162. It climbed all the way up to $164 at some point during 2018 as well.

Specialty branded drugs have also contributed to the spending increase as well. In 2014, the average price for specialty branded drugs stood at around $100. Last year, that number went all the way up to $157.

Why Drug Prices Are Soaring

A study published relatively recently in the journal Health Affairs attempts to shine a light on why drug prices have been steadily increasing in the United States over the last decade.

Speaking to CNBC, the lead author of the study, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy assistant professor Inmaculada Hernandez, said that the prices of branded drugs are rising because of the manufacturers. To be more specific, Hernandez said that “rising prices were driven by manufacturers increasing prices of medications that are already in the market.” Hernandez also noted that the higher prices are not due to newer drugs being made available to consumers.

Commenting on the study, Holly Campbell, the deputy vice president of public affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said that list prices for drugs also have to take into account discounts and rebates for several entities involved in the supply chain.

Campbell does also note that those discounts and rebates often do not reach the patients buying the drugs themselves, thus driving up out-of-pocket costs.

Considering where things currently stand regarding drug prices in the United States, it is not that surprising to learn that a particular piece of legislation is gaining more and more support in the state of Florida as it could significantly affect how much residents have to pay to get the medication they need moving forward.

What Florida Is Doing to Combat Elevated Drug Prices

The Prescription Drug Importation Programs, also known as House Bill 19, focuses on allowing the importation of drugs from Canada.

Notably, while the government is just catching up to the potential benefits of allowing the importation of drugs from Canada, residents throughout the state already know all about them.

A recent opinion piece published by the Sun-Sentinel highlighted the current situation of a retired physician named Jack Winberg. Winberg noted that he would need to spend around $400 just to purchase the medication he needs in the United States while that number drops down to $180 if he imports drugs from Canada.

Winberg is not the only Floridian who has recognized how much cost savings are just waiting to be realized by importing drugs from Canada. A survey conducted by the Sun Sentinel revealed that 94 percent of the respondents who were currently importing their medication were doing so because of how much more money they would need to pay to get those same drugs in the United States.

The potential savings are also truly substantial.

52 percent of the respondents to the survey said that they save as much as $199 per month by buying their drugs through a licensed online pharmacy based in Canada as opposed to purchasing their drugs via a nearby drug store. 38 percent of people said that they can save more than $300 per month, and on average, they are able to cut down their spending on medicine by about $910.

As for potential safety concerns, 48 percent of the survey respondents noted that they know importing their medication from Canada is safe while 97 percent of the people are confident enough in the quality of drugs provided by Canadian pharmacies that they would recommend importing to their friends and family members.

Clearly, there are people who are more than willing to import more drugs from Canada because they know how much money they can save by doing so. Recently, Florida’s House Bill 19 has seemingly gotten a very prominent supporter in the form of President Donald Trump.

Why President Trump Is Voicing His Approval of Florida’s Proposal

In recent days, President Trump has made it known that he is a fan of the bill that would allow for the importation of drugs from Canada. The president has even told health secretary Alex Azar to keep up with the bill, CNN reported.

The president is keen on the bill and wants it to be closely examined as a potential solution for the continuing rise of drug prices.

President Trump is motivated to see what the bill can do to ease the strain on Americans, particularly as it relates to their healthcare spending. Reducing drug prices was a significant part of President Trump’s campaign back when he was still running, per this report published by NBC News.

At this point, it remains unclear just how big of an impact Florida House Bill 19 could have on drug prices in the country, but the president is eager to find that out. Thus far, President Trump has been unable to make good on his promise to reduce drug prices, but the Florida House Bill does offer a bit of hope in that regard.

There’s still a way to go before the bill can take effect, but many people who are having their bank accounts drained by their medical costs are hoping it can provide some kind of relief soon.