Canada blocks bulk exports of some pharmaceuticals in response to Trump's import plan

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Trump and Trudeau meet at NATO summit in Watford

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From Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada on Saturday blocked bulk exports of prescription drugs if they would lead to a shortage at home in response to outgoing US President Donald Trump's efforts to allow imports from Canada to raise some drug prices for Americans reduce.

"Certain drugs intended for the Canadian market may not be offered for consumption outside of Canada if that sale would cause or worsen a drug shortage," Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement.

"Companies must now provide information to assess existing or potential bottlenecks on request and within 24 hours if there is a serious or imminent health risk," the statement said.

The Canadian measure went into effect Friday, just days before a US "Importation Prescription Drugs" rule that would eventually allow licensed US pharmacists or wholesalers to sell certain prescription drugs intended for the Canadian market in import large quantities.

Neither the White House nor the Department of Health and Human Services had an immediate response to a request for comment.

Trump touted the plan in his first debate with President-elect Joe Biden, who also said during his campaign that he would put in place a similar import plan to try to cut the cost of prescription drugs for Americans.

"Canada is a small market, accounting for 2% of global pharmaceutical sales and 68% of its pharmaceuticals internationally. The need for vigilance in maintaining national drug supplies remains," the statement said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September that he was ready to assist other nations with supplies of medicines if possible, adding that his priority was protecting the needs of Canadians.

Many Canadian drug suppliers rejected Trump's plan, saying it could lead to shortages.

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