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Trump proposes rule for importing prescription drugs from Canada –



The Trump administration proposed a rule Wednesday to allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada, moving forward a plan announced this summer that the president has said will bring cheaper prescription drugs to Americans.

Importation of drugs from Canada as a way to lower costs for U.S. consumers has been considered for years. Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), called the move “a historic step forward in efforts to bring down drug prices and out-of-pocket costs.”

Industry trade groups in both countries opposed the plan, saying it will not lower costs and could hurt Canadian drug supplies.

Azar said HHS would also offer guidance to drugmakers that wish to voluntarily bring drugs they sell more cheaply in other countries into the United States for sale here.

The pathways for importation were announced in July, when Azar unveiled a “Safe Import Action Plan.”

Many prescription medicines would be excluded from importation from Canada. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Azar could not provide an estimate of how soon Americans could start seeing cheaper drugs from Canada. The proposed rule would need to pass through a 75-day comment period before being finalized, he said.

“We’re moving as quickly as we possibly can,” he added.

Governors of states including Florida, Maine, Colorado, Vermont and New Hampshire have already expressed an interest in importing drugs from Canada once the pathway to do so is fully in place, Azar said. States would be required to explain how any proposed drug imports would reduce drug prices for consumers.

The proposal faces opposition from large U.S. pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Jim Greenwood, current head of biotech industry group BIO and a former Republican congressman, said that importation would not result in lower prices for consumers, citing nonpartisan budget experts and past U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioners.

“Today’s announcement is the latest empty gesture from our elected lawmakers who want us to believe they’re serious about lowering patients’ prescription drug costs,” Greenwood said.

Ottawa also has criticized the plan. Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. said last month that importing medicines from north of the border would not significantly lower U.S. prices. Reuters previously reported that Canada had warned U.S. officials it would oppose any import plan that might threaten the Canadian drug supply or raise costs for Canadians.

The federal government has suggested it could step in and block exports in the event that any such plans threaten Canada’s drug supply. In fact a previous government already introduced a bill in the House of Commons that would have allowed a block on exports.

The Paul Martin government introduced Bill C-83 in 2005 when American politics was previously awash in talk of importing from Canada. But it never became law, as the Martin government was defeated soon thereafter and the issue died down in the U.S.

Canada drug supply ‘insufficient’

“The drug supply is insufficient for the Canadian market, let alone trying to divert it to a much larger market like the U.S.,” said Daniel Chiasson, president of the Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management, a trade group that represents drug distributors.

“We’re not supportive of any policy initiative or policy proposal that has the capacity to threaten the stability of medications available to Canadians.”

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPHA) was still analyzing the announcement Wednesday afternoon to assess whether it might have a practical impact.

“With an average of five new drug shortages reported each day in Canada, we are not in a position to supply a country 10 times our size. These proposals could significantly restrict the availability of medications for our patients,” CPHA chair Christine Hrudka said in a statement to CBC News. 

Speaking to reporters in Florida on Wednesday, Azar said Canadians’ cheaper drug prices were the result of a free ride off of American investment and innovation.

“Obviously the Canadians are going to be looking out for Canadians,” he said. “We’re here to put American patients first.”

Many prescription medicines would be excluded from importation from Canada, such as biologic drugs, including insulin, controlled substances and intravenous drugs.

Tip-toeing around big pharma

U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, has struggled to deliver on a pledge to lower drug prices before the November 2020 election. Health-care costs are expected to be a major focus of the campaign by Trump and Democratic rivals vying to run against him.

The Trump administration in July scrapped an ambitious policy that would have required health insurers to pass billions of dollars in rebates they receive from drugmakers to Medicare patients.

Also in July, a federal judge struck down a Trump administration rule that would have forced pharmaceutical companies to include the wholesale prices of their drugs in television advertising.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are proposing drug pricing bills that contain some of the proposals Trump has advocated, such as indexing public drug reimbursements to foreign drug costs.

But Trump has said he will veto the Democrat-led House bill if it comes to his desk on the grounds that it would slow down innovation.

“Once again, the Trump White House is tiptoeing around big pharma with a spectacularly pinched and convoluted proposal that excludes insulin and has no actual implementation date,” said Henry Connelly, a spokesman for U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat.

“If President Trump actually wants to lower drug prices, he should pick up the phone and tell Senator McConnell to send him the House-passed Lower Drug Costs Now Act.” 

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LCBO has bright future, Premier Ford says as two-week-long strike comes to an end



TORONTO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he believes the province’s main liquor retailer has a bright future as thousands of workers returned to work Monday after a two-week strike.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario says stores will be open for business on Tuesday.

Ford says he has great confidence in the LCBO’s future, despite concerns raised by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union during the strike.

The union representing the LCBO workers had said it believed Ford’s plan to expand alcohol sales to convenience and grocery stores would threaten union jobs and the public revenue the LCBO provides to the province.

Ford sped up those plans after the strike began on July 5, allowing grocery stores already licensed to sell beer and wine to also sell ready-to-drink cocktail beverages as of Thursday last week.

The union ratified the proposed deal over the weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Tesla Increases Model S and Model X Prices Amid Slumping Sales



Luxury goods tax on super-rich could hit green cars: experts

PALO ALTO, California — In a surprising move, Tesla has increased the prices of its Model S and Model X vehicles by $2,000, despite a significant decline in sales.

The price hike comes at a time when Tesla’s Model S and Model X sales are estimated to have dropped by 31-37% year-over-year. The electric car manufacturer does not disclose individual sales figures for its models, instead bundling all Model S, Model X, Cybertruck, and Tesla Semi deliveries together, making it challenging to assess the performance of each model. Based on delivery estimates for the Cybertruck and Tesla Semi, analysts place the sales of the Model S and Model X at around 12,000-13,000 units for the last quarter.

New Pricing Structure

The updated prices for Tesla’s premium electric vehicles are as follows:

  • Model S Long Range: $74,990
  • Model S Plaid: $89,990
  • Model X Long Range: $79,990
  • Model X Plaid: $94,990

Despite the overall price increase, Tesla has strategically kept the Model X Long Range price under the $80,000 threshold, ensuring it remains eligible for the federal tax credit. This move appears aimed at maintaining the model’s competitiveness by leveraging the federal incentive.

The price increase could be interpreted as a response to rising production costs or an attempt to maintain premium brand positioning amidst declining sales figures. However, this strategy carries risks, particularly if potential buyers are sensitive to price changes.

Industry observers are divided on the potential impact of this pricing strategy. Some believe the increase could alienate price-sensitive customers, further exacerbating the sales decline. Others argue that the price adjustment might be offset by improvements in production efficiency or upcoming enhancements to the models.

Tesla’s decision not to break down sales by individual models has drawn criticism, as it obscures the performance of each vehicle line. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for investors and industry analysts to gauge the health of Tesla’s product lineup accurately.

As Tesla navigates these turbulent times, the recent price increase of its Model S and Model X vehicles raises questions about the company’s broader strategy and market positioning. While the long-term effects of this decision remain to be seen, it is clear that Tesla is taking bold steps in response to the evolving automotive market landscape.

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S&P/TSX composite index up over 100 points Monday morning, U.S. markets also rise



TORONTO – Gains in the financial and industrial sectors led Canada’s main stock index higher in late-morning trading on Monday, while U.S. stock markets also rose.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 126.25 points at 22,816.64.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 88.24 points at 40,375.77. The S&P 500 index was up 39.17 points at 5,544.17, while the Nasdaq composite was up 168.11 points at 17,895.05.

The Canadian dollar traded for 72.70 cents US compared with 72.85 cents US on Friday.

The September crude oil contract was down 24 cents at US$78.40 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was up 10 cents at US$2.26 per mmBTU.

The August gold contract was down US$8.70 at US$2,390.40an ounce and the September copper contract was down six cents at US$4.18 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD)

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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