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Canadian Drug Plan Could Save Florida $150M A Year, Officials Say

Florida's proposal focuses on Canadian drug imports for state agencies, but it says Florida also supports imports for private citizens.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida sent federal officials a detailed plan for how the state proposes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries on Friday.

The concept paper estimates the state could save more than $150 million annually by importing cheaper prescriptions. 

The plan focuses on drug importations for state agencies, but it says Florida also supports imports for private citizens. Consumers could see additional savings, said Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“We want as a state to leverage cheaper (prescriptions) to save tax payer money but we also want the consumers to be able to do this direct which will obviously save,” DeSantis said.

Under the arrangement, the state would hire a vendor to manage the program and ensure that Canadian suppliers and importers comply with safety requirements. Importers would be limited to wholesalers and pharmacists that dispense drugs to people who are in state government programs.

The state passed a law earlier this year that paves the way for Canadian drug importations. The proposal requires approval from the Trump administration, which has signaled recently that it could be in favor of the concept. 

RELATED: Florida Drug Importation Program Gets Support From Trump Administration

The pharmaceutical industry opposed Florida's law before it was approved and cited safety as its main concern. 

If Florida's plan is approved, it could force changes to the pharmaceutical industry that would benefit everyone, DeSantis said.

“There's going to be change of behavior. I mean some of the pharmaceuticals may start doing something different,” DeSantis said. “That may mean we get cheaper stuff here in the U.S. as a result of that. That may mean they raise prices in Canada. I don't know. But I know that we've really started something that I think a lot of people wanted to see action on.” 

An act passed by congress in 2003 allows wholesalers and pharmacists in the United States to import prescription drugs from Canada under certain situations. 

But first, the Secretary of Health and Human Services must certify to things: there is no risk to public health and safety and the proposal will result in significant cost savings.

Florida is among four states that have passed laws allowing for the importation of Canadian drugs. None of the proposals have yet received approval from the federal government.

Copyright 2019 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.
Julio Ochoa
Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.