Grassley Statement on HHS Announcement of Drug Importation Task Force
WASHINGTON – U.S Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa today released the following statement on the announcement by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a task force to explore the importation of prescription drugs under certain circumstances as a way to reduce drug price increases in the United States.
“Today’s announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services shows movement in the right direction in the fight against high drug prices, but it’s long overdue. This has been an ongoing problem for more than 20 years and its way past time to make real progress and help millions of Americans who struggle to pay exorbitant prices for their medications. I encourage this Task Force to work quickly and efficiently so they can move forward with providing Americans real relief.”
Grassley has been a consistent supporter of importing prescription drugs from Canada. The first reimportation vote in the U.S. Senate occurred in July 2000, on an amendment offered by former Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Grassley supported the Jeffords amendment. Grassley voted a second time for reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada in July 2002, on an amendment offered by former Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. Grassley voted for another Dorgan amendment when it was offered in June 2003. This legislation became part of the Senate bill to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, but it was eliminated in the final conference report on the bill.
In 2004 and 2005, Grassley introduced the Reliable Entry for Medicines at Everyday Discounts through Importation with Effective Safeguards (REMEDIES) Act, which would make it legal for U.S. consumers to buy safe prescription drugs from Canada.
Most recently in 2017, Grassley, along with Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, sent a letter to then-HHS Secretary Tom Price urging him to use his statutory authority to fast track the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. Grassley and McCain sent a similar letter to then-HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell in 2015.