Three states join Florida in Canadian drug importation request

by | Dec 14, 2022



  • New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Colorado formally joined the state of Florida in a request that seeks federal permission to import prescription pharmaceuticals from Canada
  • If granted, the ability to import Canadian pharmaceuticals would lower the cost of consumer medications 
  • The states’ addition pressures the Biden administration to respond to Florida’s original request filed in 2019 
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration on claims that the agency was slow-rolling the approval process 

New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Colorado formally joined the state of Florida in a request that seeks federal permission to import prescription pharmaceuticals from Canada. If importation rights are granted, it is expected to lower the cost of consumer medication for residents of the participating states.

The addition of the trio of states to the request places pressure on President Joe Biden to respond to Florida’s original request in 2019, which has yet to be ruled on.

The lack of response resulted in a lawsuit from DeSantis against the Food and Drug Administration, claiming that the agency has “intentionally delayed the process of approval.”

The federal government denied the claim, going so far as to ask a judge to reject allegations, as well as filing a 27-page document that pushed back against a lawsuit.

“Defendants deny the allegations that [the] FDA has been inactive with respect to, or ‘sitting on,’ Florida’s SIP proposal, and that [the] FDA is denying access to prescription drugs,” the document reads, filed in a federal court in Tampa.

A policy to establish a foundation for medicinal imports was authorized by the administration of Former President Donald Trump in 2020, but organizations like the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America mounted a legal challenge that is still pending in federal court in Washington.

Kaiser Health News reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said on Dec. 5 that the Biden administration welcomed applications for drug importation programs from Colorado and other states, but would not pledge that the FDA would rule on any application in 2023.

State officials project that the initiative, which was originally introduced by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Legislature in 2019, will save the state between $80 and $150 million in the first year alone.

In addition, imported pharmaceuticals will now be available through government programs including Medicaid, the penal system, and institutions managed by the Department of Children and Families, according to a plan designated by state authorities.

At least initially, the state wants to import drugs to treat conditions such as HIV and AIDS, hepatitis C, diabetes, and mental illness.

“For far too long, Floridians have been paying exorbitant prices for prescription drugs,” said DeSantis. “Today, we take another step towards lowering those prices by submitting a proposal to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a first-of-its-kind Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program. My administration will continue to work collaboratively in an effort to bring affordable prescription drugs to all Floridians.”

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