A Tuesday article in The Hill reminded me that both Barack Obama and John McCain favor importation. McCain even took a shot at drug companies in his acceptance speech, which is consistent with his comments during the primary. (See my January post Crazy Talk from John McCain.)
In addition to our old friend S.242, Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Grassley (R-IA) just introduced S.3409 The Drug and Device Accountability Act. Section 122 of the new bill touches on drug importation safety "standards" and could be seen as foundational legislation.
Of course, importation won’t actually save very much money for consumers because most of the price differential will be absorbed by the channel. For example, wholesalers, importers and exporters are the big winners from importation because they absorb 80% or more of the price differences between European countries. (See my op-ed from last year Importation Illusions.)
That’s why I’m keeping my eye on cross-border wholesaler transactions. European wholesaler-retailer Alliance Boots entered the Brazilian market in July. (See Alliance Boots to enter Brazil.) Alliance Boots already has a strategic alliance with Cardinal Health (
The Healthcare Distribution Management Association, which represents the drug wholesalers, has an official position against importation, stating: “HDMA is opposed to permitting the importation of pharmaceuticals. Importation, whether restricted to just
I happen to agree with HDMA on the dangers, but I wonder if their position will change if (when?) importation is legalized under a new administration. Or am I too convinced that an importation bill will actually pass?