Sen. Draheim and Chair Benson hold prescription drug cost listening session

On Wednesday, November 20, Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake) and Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, held a listening session in New Prague on the topic of rising prescription drug costs. The listening session was held at New Prague City Hall and allowed community residents an opportunity to tell their own stories, as well as learn more about two options being considered that would grant Minnesotans access to more affordable prescription drugs.

“This listening session presented an opportunity to hear directly from area residents about their struggles with the costs of prescription drugs and what could be done to help them,” said Senator Draheim, who serves on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. “I’ve been a broken record when it comes to lowering the cost of health care and combatting the rapidly rising costs of prescription medications has been one of my primary focuses. Although I authored and passed into law bipartisan legislation this year to lower the cost of pharmaceuticals, we need to do more. And, drug importation from Canada is one possible solution that would benefit all Minnesotans.”

The federal government has recently offered latitude to states looking to obtain cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidance for prescription drug reimportation programs, which focused on two possible pathways for states to consider. The first pathway would allow Minnesota pharmacies to purchase prescription medications directly from Canadian pharmacies. Minnesotans would then be able to purchase these lower cost drugs directly from their local pharmacist. The second pathway would allow Minnesota pharmacies to purchase medications directly from the pharmaceutical manufacturers at lower Canadian prices. In this scenario, Minnesotans would still be able to purchase their prescription medications directly from their local pharmacist at a cheaper rate. In both instances, safe guards are in place to ensure the quality of the medications meet federal standards. Florida, Vermont, Colorado, and Maine have already passed importation laws, and numerous other states are looking at proposals or have introduced their own bills.

“Minnesota has always been a leader in health care, and Senate Republicans will continue to propose real solutions to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and maintain the quality of our health care system for all Minnesota families,” said Senator Benson. “People are already going to Canada and Mexico in search of cheaper prescription drugs. We have clearly seen there is a market for these drugs; we’re just going to make sure more Minnesotans can participate. It boils down to this: Minnesotans are going to get fairer prices without giving up the choices they have.”

Watch the town hall here.