Canada has started to clamp down on the export of Ozempic to the US of A. A lot of Americans aren’t happy about it, and Canada’s health minister has called it an ‘outrageous’ abuse. Many of my followers have asked for my input.
So let’s get into it!
So what’s going on with Ozempic?
Between the shortages with Ozempic and Wegovy, as well as the ridiculous cost of American pharmaceuticals, a number of Americans have been looking to Canada to get their Ozempic prescriptions. In fact, over 15% of the Ozempic prescriptions written and dispensed in January and February 2023 went to American patients. A physician practicing in Texas who happens to also have a medical license for the province of Nova Scotia wrote 17,000 prescriptions for Ozempic that were then filled at 2 pharmacies in British Columbia and then shipped to American citizens.
Americans looking to Canada for their prescription medications is nothing new. In fact, good ol’ Trump promoted it as a strategy to lower USA drug costs during his campaign for re-election in 2020. Many states have also passed legislation that would allow mass importation of Canadian pharmaceuticals. Seems legit enough, right? Canada has cheaper drugs, the US of A needs cheaper drugs. If the US imports Canadian drugs, problem is solved!
If only it were that simple.
I 100% agree with the banning of exportation of Canadian pharmaceuticals to ‘Merica. I have multiple reasons as to why that is the case.
- Drug shortages.
- Canada brings in medications to meet the needs of its population of nearly 40 million. The population in the US of A is nearly 332 million. If Canada let the mass exportation of drugs move from Canada to the US, we would quickly run into trouble with drug shortages. Canada would no longer be able to ensure their population was able to obtain medically necessary medications.
- Increase in Cost.
- One thing many people don’t realize is that if Canada was exporting large amounts of its drug to the US, Canada can’t just go to the drug company and ask for more. The drug companies would say eff you, I am restricting how much drug you are getting. Better yet, I am going to jack the price of your drugs because we are losing money by Canada selling cheaper drugs to the US.
- Not a Solution.
- Importing drugs from Canada doesn’t solve the problems of drug shortages and astronomical prices in the US. It is a temporary fix that will ultimately lead to America’s problem becoming everyone else’s problem.
The root cause of this problem comes down to lawmakers and elected officials in the US not regulating the pharmaceutical industry and their pricing.
So why is that?
If you guessed money, you were right! Pharmaceutical companies spent $373 million last year alone on lobbying Congress and federal agencies more than any other industry.
The next biggest spender was Electronics Manufacturing which spent a measly $221 million in lobbying. As with most things, when money gets involved, elected officials and our ‘leaders’ tend to act in their own interests vs. the interest of the people who have elected them. As for the drug companies themselves, well, they don’t really want to mess around with their largest pharmaceutical market in the world.
Yes, drug companies are businesses and need to make money in order to fund research and development for future therapies. However, when a three-month prescription of Ozempic in the US is nearly $3000 USD compared to ~$450 USD in Canada, there is a big effing issue.
Am I paying too much for a Patented Drug?
To regulate prices here in Canada, we have the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), which compares the prices of pharmaceuticals sold in similar countries and then sets the price that a pharmaceutical company can sell their drug at in Canada. Hell, if you are a Canadian and feel you are paying too much for a patented drug, you can even submit a complaint to the PMPRB, which may trigger a further review of the medication’s cost. Canadians do pay for the PMPRB with their taxes, but in the grand scheme, it is a hell of a lot cheaper compared to the cost of medications in the States.
So what should I do?
If you are American, it sucks. The good news is the drug shortages with GLP-1 medications will hopefully resolve soon. However, they are still stupidly expensive. None of this is Canada’s fault. Canada is acting in the best interest of its people, just as you would expect your country to do so. What really needs to happen is you, your family, your friends, your dogs, and your cats need to start lobbying your congress. Unite together, get in their faces and have your voices heard. That is the only way a truly long-lasting solution will be created. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.
Until next time my friends, always remember that small tweaks lead to massive peaks!
Until next time.
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Statista. (n.d.). Leading lobbying industries in the United States in 2022 by total lobbying spending. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/257364/top-lobbying-industries-in-the-us/
Drugs.com. (April 10, 2023). Ozempic Prices, Coupons and Patient Assistance Programs. Retrieved from: https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/ozempic
Government of Canada. (April 19, 2018). How to Make a Complaint. Retrieved from: http://pmprb-cepmb.gc.ca/view.asp?ccid=1014&lang=en