Florida plan to import cheaper drugs criticized by pharmaceutical lobbying group

by | Jan 15, 2024

Florida’s plan to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, expected to save up to $180 million in its first year, has been approved by the FDA after a 37-month process and legal challenges, despite opposition from the pharmaceutical industry lobby.

After 37 months and a lawsuit, Florida’s plan to import cheaper medications become a reality.

Now Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration will have to implement a plan to import drugs from Canada, something a news release from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office says could save the state up to $180 million in the first year of implementation. A lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry says those cost savings are a “mirage.”

On Jan. 5, the Food and Drug Administration announced in a news release it approved Florida’s proposal to import drugs, which will include maintenance medications used to treat chronic conditions like HIV, mental illness, and prostate cancer.

“After years of federal bureaucrats dragging their feet, Florida will now be able to import low-cost, life-saving prescription drugs. It’s about time that the FDA put patients over politics and the interests of Floridians over Big Pharma.” DeSantis said in his news release.

Prescriptions will be available to those under the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health. DeSantis plans to expand the program to include imported prescription drugs for Medicaid members across Florida.

There has been some pushback from PhRMA — a Washington D.C.-based lobby group — who labeled the approval by the FDA to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada as “reckless.”

In an article published on its website, the group states that the proposal approval by the FDA is dangerous, unnecessary, and ineffective. The article says many other states have tried and failed to implement similar plans because “the supposed savings were a mirage.”

PhRMA added that it will increase the risk of counterfeit medicines, will place unnecessary strain on law enforcement and does not guarantee savings for patients. Conversely, the treasurer of PhRMA is Pfizer’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla.

However, according to DeSantis’ news release, Florida will conduct visual inspections and laboratory testing to detect any counterfeit drugs, has a return plan if drugs are recalled and has conducted a cost analysis which stated up to $183 million could be saved.


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