OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada on Saturday blocked mass exports of prescription drugs if they caused a shortage at home, in response to efforts by outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump to allow Americans to reduce imports from Canada.
“Certain drugs intended for the Canadian market may not be distributed for consumption outside Canada if such sales would cause or exacerbate drug shortages,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement.
“Companies should now also provide information to assess existing or potential deficiencies, upon request, and within 24 hours if there is a serious or imminent health risk,” the statement said.
The Canadian measure came into effect on Friday, just days before the U.S. “import of prescription drugs” rule, which would eventually allow U.S. pharmacists or wholesalers to import certain prescription drugs destined for the Canadian market en masse.
Neither the White House nor the Department of Health and Human Resources received an immediate response to the request for an opinion.
Trump promoted the plan in his first debate with President-elect Joe Biden, who also said during his campaign that he would put together a similar import plan to try to reduce the cost of U.S. prescription drugs.
“Canada is a small market that accounts for 2% of global drug sales and procures 68% of its drugs internationally. Vigilance is still needed to maintain national drug supply, ”the communication said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September that he was willing to help other nations with drug supplies as an opportunity, adding that the primary goal was to protect the needs of Canadians.
Many Canadian drug suppliers opposed Trump’s plan, saying it could lead to shortages.
Report by Steve Scherer, additional report by Alexandra Alper in Washington; Edited by Nick Zieminski