June 17, 2024
Trump’s Canada Drug Import Plan Can’t Happen Without Big Pharma
Selling outside of Canada wouldn’t serve the wholesalers’ customers and could put them at risk of being cut off by the manufacturers.
Selling outside of Canada wouldn’t serve the wholesalers’ customers and could put them at risk of being cut off by the manufacturers.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to import cheap Canadian drugs overlooks a crucial fact: it can’t happen without the cooperation of major drugmakers, the very industry he’s trying to undercut.

Even as alarm grows in Canada over the prospect of Americans draining their supply of medicines, there’s little reason to believe the U.S. proposal would worsen the country’s drug shortages. But the fear plays into the hands of the powerful drug companies seeking to protect their U.S. profit margins.

“Instead of attacking the Trump administration for this proposal, it’s easier to make sure that this proposal does not come into existence in Canada,” said Marc-André Gagnon at Carleton University in Ottawa, who focuses on the political economy of the pharmaceutical sector. “But what we do have is a fear-mongering campaign as if it will be a catastrophe for Canadian supply.”

Canada’s supply chain is beholden to the drugmakers. Pharmaceutical companies sell most of their drugs through wholesalers and distributors who in turn supply the front-line hospitals and pharmacies under agreements that the products are intended for the domestic market only. Both groups stand to lose from diverting drugs south.

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