Johnson bill would help reduce cost of prescription drugs

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson on Wednesday re-introduced legislation to create a prescription importation system in Michigan to help people save money on doctor-prescribed medications.

“Michigan patients have struggled for years to afford lifesaving and quality-of-life medications while people in Canada can get the exact same drugs for a fraction of the cost,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “Michigan families can pay up to nine times more for necessary prescriptions. It’s not fair or reasonable.

“My bill would allow people in our state to save money by purchasing prescriptions from Canada at huge discounts and still ensuring quality and safety.”

Johnson provided some recent examples of the disparities between U.S. and Canadian drug prices for a 90-day supply. These included Entocort for Crohn’s Disease, which costs $2,047 in the U.S. but only $238 in Canada – a difference of 859%. Prescriptions for Januvia (for diabetes), Flovent (for asthma), and Synthroid (for thyroid disorder), are 364%, 324% and 336% more expensive in the U.S., respectively.

Senate Bill 583 would allow Michigan to establish a Canadian drug importation program for the expressed purpose of reducing the cost of prescription drugs for Michigan consumers.

The bill would require the state to work with the federal government to implement the program and maintain drug safety protections.

“One-third of Michiganders are not taking the medication prescribed by their doctors because they can’t afford it. That’s unacceptable,” said Paula D. Cunningham, state director of AARP Michigan. “Proposed law changes, such as enabling drug importation from Canada, can provide some relief for many of these families. During our travels across the state we’ve heard numerous stories from individuals who drive to Canada to purchase lower-priced drugs. No American should have to do that.”

SB 583 has been referred to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee for consideration.

###