Friday 20 July 2018
New Trump Administration U.S. FDA Working Group on Importation of Pharmaceuticals
The U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, has recently directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to establish a working group to explore importing “safe” pharmaceuticals from other countries in the case of a dramatic price hike by a pharmaceutical company. The Press Release is careful to note that this would not include pharmaceuticals covered by “patents or other exclusivities.” However, there is the recent U.S. Supreme Court case in Impression Products v. Lexmark International concerning an international exhaustion rule for U.S. patents. The Press Release states:
As part of the Trump administration’s efforts to lower drug prices and put American patients first, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requested today that FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb establish a working group to examine how to safely import prescription drugs from other countries in the event of a dramatic price increase for a drug produced by one manufacturer and not protected by patents or exclusivities.
“We look forward to working with Commissioner Gottlieb and the FDA to explore how importation could help address price hikes and supply disruptions that are harming American patients,” said Secretary Azar. “We have seen a number of both branded and generic examples in recent years where a single manufacturer dramatically hikes the price for a drug unprotected by patent or exclusivities. In the 2015 case of the drug Daraprim, we saw the list price of a drug approved by the FDA in 1953 increase by more than 5,000 percent.
“Safe, select avenues for importation could be one of the answers to these challenges. When HHS released the President’s Blueprint for putting American patients first, I said we are open to all potential solutions—assuming they are effective, safe for patients, and respect choice, innovation, and access.
“Importation may well fit that bill in some instances. We look forward to working with Commissioner Gottlieb on this issue, and appreciate the voluminous work FDA has done to increase competition in America’s drug markets.”