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Bill would increase access to prescription drugs from Canada

January 28, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota legislators are considering bills aimed at increasing access to lower-priced prescription drugs from neighboring Canada.

Two bills heard by the Senate Human Services Committee Wednesday propose a state-run, wholesale import program that would purchase medication from Canada.

An AARP survey last year found 65% of North Dakota residents ages 45 and older are at least somewhat concerned about affording prescription drugs in the next two years.

“North Dakota shouldn’t sit on the sidelines. We should be a part of those discussions about trying to put downward pressure on prescription drugs,” AARP North Dakota Executive Director Josh Askvig said.

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Retired educator Mike Worner told senators how he was prescribed an eye medication that cost $1,700 for a three-month supply. His doctor recommended that to save money, he cut his dose in half from what was prescribed. But he’s been able to purchase the eye drops from another country for $60.

“In my opinion this is simply not right,” Worner said. “Why can someone purchase a prescription drug for $60 and then pay $1,700 for that same drug?”

Opponents to the bills cite risks from counterfeit drug trade, safety concerns and legal questions.