Indeed, Ryan's comments before Congress represent part of a pile-on of sorts on the major drug makers, including Pfizer
Clearly, the levee on reimportation looks about to break. Nonetheless, it's questionable as to whether allowing buying from across the border will actually have any substantial impact. Pharmaceutical giants are not likely to voluntarily boost exports to Canada to accommodate such a program, as fellow Fool Bill Mann has pointed out.
Opening up importation from Europe, though, might be a different story. Europe, unlike Canada, has a large pharmaceutical industry. As in a Canada scenario, U.S. companies could stifle reimportation by tightly controlling shipments to the continent. But European companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline
However the drug price debate works out, it seems clear that the current system is on the edge of extinction. U.S. pharmaceutical companies may have no choice but to evolve.
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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer living in Chicago, Ill. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned here.