The Republican presidential candidate, as you know, supports the idea of importing drugs from Canada, which plays into his carefully polished image of maverick. Consumers may like the notion, but it could cost drugmakers that much over 10 years,Bloomberg News writes.
"If there are ways to bring greater competition to our drug markets by safe re-importation of drugs, by faster introduction of generics, or by any other means we should do so,'' McCain said in October. Supporters say that by attacking health costs, the Arizona Senator can make care more affordable for the 47 million Americans without coverage.
Opponents say the ideas are unrealistic...
Taking on health care spending also isn't likely to win him support from an industry traditionally pro-Republican. "If you take his platform en masse, and began with his premise that it's about cost and not access, then you can pretty much declare a jihad against all the stakeholders in the system,'' Paul Keckley, director of the Deloitte Center of Health Solutions in Washington, D.C., tells Bloomberg.
Drugmakers could lose $40 billion over 10 years if pharmacists, wholesalers and individuals were allowed to import drugs into the US, according to a 2003 report by the Congressional Budget Office. Drug import legislation died in Congress when proposed in 2003. A renewed call isn't likely to be any more successful, Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy & Strategy, a consulting firm, tells Bloomberg.
McCain would attack drug costs by allowing Americans to legally purchase medicines from Canada, but he isn't worried about riling interest groups, such as drugmakers, says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the candidate's policy adviser. "It's not a plan that's meant to solve constituent problems,'' he tells Bloomberg. "It's meant to solve a pressing national policy issue.''
Pfizer's Lipitor, the world's biggest selling drug with $12.7 billion in worldwide revenue last year, cost $60.78 for a 30-day supply of 20 milligram pills on CanadaDrugs.com, which is licensed in Manitoba, Canada to ship to US patients. Drugstore.com sells the same pills for $119.99, almost twice as much.
Americans spend 16 cents out of every dollar on health care, and the cost will rise by 20 cents within a decade if the system isn't changed, according to a report in February by government economists. McCain says people need incentives to reduce wasteful health-care spending. "The problem is not that most Americans lack adequate health insurance,'' McCain, 71, said in October, when he first outlined his health policy. "The biggest problem with the American health-care system is that it costs too much.''
Lifting restrictions on buying medicines abroad isn't safe because U.S. regulators couldn't block overseas counterfeiters selling through the internet, Ken Johnson, senior vice president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a drug industry trade group based in Washington, told Bloomberg in a statement.