Aug. 1 (UPI) — A Congressional Budget Office analysis estimates that a bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders that would allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada and other countries would save taxpayers nearly $7 billion over the next 10 years.
The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act was introduced by Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in February. According to the CBO estimate, the bill would gradually result in $6.8 billion in savings by 2027 through “expanding the Food and Drug Administration‘s regulatory authority surrounding importation of prescription drugs” and allowing “pharmacies, wholesalers and individuals (for personal use) to import prescription drugs into the United States under certain new conditions from selected countries.”
In a statement announcing the bill’s introduction, Sanders said that prescription drugs made by the same companies in the same factories are available in other countries for less than the price they’re sold for in the United States.
“In 2014, Americans spent $1,112 per person on prescription drugs while Canadians spent $772 and Danes spent $325,” Sanders said.
The bill currently has 21 co-sponsors, including 20 Democrats and Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine.
Despite potential cost savings, the International Business Times points out that the bill could face opposition from pharmaceutical industry lobbyists, who have ramped up efforts to stymie efforts by lawmakers to reduce drug costs.
During the first quarter of 2017, the pharmaceutical and health industry spent $78 million to lobby lawmakers in Washington, D.C., a 14 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. So far this year, the pharmaceutical and health industry has spent $144,400,614 in lobbying, according to the latest figures from the CRP, which is about on pace with 2016, a presidential election year.
The biggest spender in the pharmaceutical industry has been the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, a trade group representing drug companies. The group has already spent more than $14 million in 2017, compared to $19.7 million during the entirety of 2016.
To make sure it had enough for its lobbying campaign this year, PRMA increased membership dues by 50 percent, generating an extra $100 million for advertising and lobbying purposes, reported The New York Times.