12/01/2020 12:49 EST

Trump Admin Quiet After Canada Thwarts Plan To Import Cheaper Drugs

Exports of certain prescription drugs have been banned if it'll cause or worsen a drug shortage in Canada.

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Pharmacist holding medicine box and capsule pack in pharmacy drugstore.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration is keeping silent about Canada blocking its plan to import prescription drugs from north of the border. 

“Certain drugs intended for the Canadian market are prohibited from being distributed for consumption outside of Canada if that sale would cause or worsen a drug shortage,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement Thursday.

“Companies will now also be required to provide information to assess existing or potential shortages, when requested, and within 24 hours if there is a serious or imminent health risk,” the statement said.

Hajdu’s move is aimed at thwarting President Donald Trump’s efforts to lower prescription costs by allowing pharmacies and wholesalers to import drugs from Canada. 

The Canadian measure went into effect on Friday, just days before a U.S. “Importation Prescription Drugs” rule that would eventually allow licensed U.S. pharmacists or wholesalers to import in bulk certain prescription drugs intended for the Canadian market.

The White House is referring questions to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which did not acknowledge media queries Monday. 

With the Trump administration in its final six weeks, health policy experts say the import proposal, which went into effect Monday, is now likely doomed. 

Dr. Allen Zagoren, a health policy professor at Drake University in Iowa, says Canada’s move gives president-elect Joe Biden the political cover to seek a more practical solution. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. 

With files from Steve Scherer, Reuters.