This State Just Voted to Buy Its Prescription Drugs from Canada

The trade association that represents American pharmaceutical companies is less than enthusiastic…

Many critics of America's pharmaceutical industry have argued that the best way to bring down drug prices is to let Americans buy prescription drugs from countries with nationalized health care systems. Those countries' governments negotiate lower drug prices, and their consumers pay a fraction of what Americans do for most pharmaceutical products. If Americans could order from overseas, the theory goes, pharmaceutical companies would have to lower their prices here.

Last week, Vermont took a step toward testing that theory by passing legislation that would create a system for wholesale importation of pharmaceuticals from Canada. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, signed the bill Wednesday after the state's overwhelmingly Democratic legislature voted 141–2 in the House and unanimously in the Senate to pass S.175.

“It is outrageous that a commonly used medicine like Lipitor costs 46 times more per pill in the United States than in Canada,” Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said in a statement released by the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), which wrote the model legislation on which Vermont's bill is based. “In fact, legislative staff determined that importing just two diabetes drugs from Canada would save the state's teacher health insurance plan more than $500,000 each year.”