Canadian PM Says Will 'Take Into Account' US Drug Import Plans, but Canadians First

Canadian PM Says Will 'Take Into Account' US Drug Import Plans, but Canadians First
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes a speech in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on September 24, 2020. (Reuters/Blair Gable)

TORONTO—Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that while he is willing to entertain demands from the United States for Canadian medications, he would put the nation's needs first.

In a bid to lower drug prices, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on Friday finalized a plan that includes a measure allowing states to purchase medicines from Canada.

That's a move that Trudeau and Canadian distributors have opposed in the past, and they have said will not work.

"Our priority will always be to ensure an adequate and safe supply for Canadians first and foremost," Trudeau said at a news conference, when asked about the U.S. plan.

But he added that "any moves by the United States will be taken into account" as the country builds up its pharmaceutical capacity during the coronavirus pandemic, and added that Canada would "be there to help other countries in need as well".

At least ten U.S. states, including Florida, have passed or proposed laws to allow such imports from Canada, and as of Friday there is federal approval.

Some of Canada's major distributors are subsidiaries of U.S. companies, who are unlikely to participate in a program to lower prices, since their revenue reflects a cut of the value of the drugs they provide to pharmacies in the much larger U.S. market.