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View from congress: Trade agreements and drug price controls in the US and Canada

Todd Stein, BA, Office of US Representative Tom Allen, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515-1901, (202) 225-6116, todd.stein@mail.house.gov

The soaring price of pharmaceuticals has emerged as an important policy issue and a barrier to care. The US Administation has stated that prescription drugs are priced at unfairly low levels outside of the US, and that a policy objective is to raise prices abroad. Opponents contend that this policy is unlikely to result in lower drug prices in the US, and interferes with democratically determined policies of other nations. The US-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as proposed in 2004, would introduce changes into the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which has successfully kept drug prices affordable through a system that reviews and set prices for drugs, and subsidizes consumer costs. The Agreement could also affect how US federal and state programs negotiate drug prices. It originally attempted to ban the reimportation of lower price drugs into the US, setting a precedent for possible reimportation programs from Canada and elsewhere. One Congressional proposal would use elements of Australia's drug pricing system to base the US price of drugs on their therapeutic benefit, referred to as "comparative pricing." This presentation evaluates the implications of the current Australian drug pricing system, and the Australian FTA, for affordable prescription drugs in the US and globally.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant in the session will

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Controlling Drug Prices at Home and Abroad: Beyond Formularies and Importation (Medical Care Section Solicited Session #2)

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA