California Health Advocates submitted this letter in support of Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager’s California Affordable Drug Importation Act (AB XX). AB XX will increase access to safe, affordable prescription drugs by establishing a state-run program to import wholesale pharmaceuticals from Canada and upon federal approval, from additional countries that meet specified statutory or regulatory standards that are comparable to U.S. standards.
With Americans paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and 1/3 of Americans needing to skip filling prescriptions because of the cost, and 20% needing to forgo medications to have money for food and housing, this bill provides needed access to safe, affordable prescriptions outside of the U.S. Read the full letter below.
January 29, 2021
The Honorable Jim Wood
Chair, Assembly Health Committee
Capitol Room 6005
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Assemblymember Wood:
California Health Advocates (CHA), is pleased to support Assemblymember Kamlager’s California Affordable Drug Importation Act.
California Health Advocates (CHA), a non-profit organization founded in 1997, is the leading Medicare advocacy and educational voice for more than 6.2 million Medicare beneficiaries in California. The population we serve would greatly benefit from more affordable prescription drugs.
This bill will increase access to safe, affordable prescription drugs by establishing a state-run program to import wholesale pharmaceuticals from Canada. Upon approval from the federal government, the program will be expanded to include additional countries that meet standards that are comparable to U.S. standards.
Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. One-third of Americans have skipped filling prescriptions because of the cost. 20 percent of Americans have had trouble paying for food and housing because of the cost of their medication. And almost 10 percent of Americans have imported a prescription drug illegally at some point to get a lower price. Skyrocketing drug costs also drain employers, who are struggling more than ever to provide health insurance to employees and their dependents.
Over the last 3 years, prescription drugs have experienced double-digit price increases in the U.S. U.S. drug prices are nearly four times higher than average prices compared to similar countries. American consumers spend 40 percent more on prescriptions per person than Canada and twice as much as the average major industrialized country, even when accounting for rebates.
Prescription drug importation is a powerful tool to address the burden that high drug costs pose to the state and to patients. AB XX will not only lower drug costs and increase access to medicines, but also will ensure that the drugs that are imported into California are safe and effective.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of our support position.
Christina Dimas-Kahn, Board Chair
California Health Advocates