In order to prevent the shortage of certain prescription drugs in Canada, the Trudeau government has announced a ban on the export of drugs in response to the United States’ plan to import medicines from the country. The federal government declared the ban on Saturday, November 28, stating that certain drugs are prohibited from being distributed for consumption outside of Canada if that sale would cause or worsen a drug shortage.
Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement that companies will now also be required to provide information to assess existing or potential shortages when requested, sometimes within 24 hours if there is a serious or imminent health risk to Canadians. The country sources 68 percent of its drugs from overseas and therefore it was important to avoid any disruptions to supplies, the statement further said.
The decision comes in response to a US plan that would allow for drugs to be imported from Canada to make them cheaper for Americans. Although prescription drug prices in Canada are higher than in some nations, they are cheaper than in the US. A number of Canada’s drug suppliers had cautioned the federal government that Trump’s plan would cause shortages of medicines in the country and amid the pandemic, there is already an increased demand for some medicines.
Trump signs executive orders for drug importation
In July, the Trump administration had signed an executive order allowing for the legal importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a month later said he was happy to help other nations with their supplies if possible however his priority was protecting the needs of Canadians.
Meanwhile, the drugmakers have faced intense criticism from US politicians including Trump as well as insurance companies and patients’ groups over the high cost of new medicines and price hikes in some older generic drugs.
Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine plan
On November 27, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he expects more than half of the country’s population to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by next September. Last week, the 48-year-old leader attracted flak after he claimed that Canadians might not be the first ones to receive the vaccine as it does not have a vaccine production facility.
Although he did not specify a particular month, the Canadian prime minister asserted that he expects a COVID-19 vaccine to arrive early in 2021. Speaking at a press briefing on COVID-19 and vaccine rollout, Trudeau said that although the pandemic was a race to get to the starting line first, it doesn’t get over until everyone reaches the finish line.