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Canadian Drug Importation Money Approved

Pill bottles in a pharmacy
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Health care budget writers have agreed to spend $10.3 million to help carry out a Canadian drug-importation program, about half of what Gov. Ron DeSantis sought in a proposed budget he unveiled late last year.

The agreement came this weekend as House and Senate negotiators work out details of a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The Legislature in 2019 passed a measure that allows Florida to establish Canadian and international drug-importation programs.

The money will be used to hire a contractor that will assist the Agency for Health Care Administration in developing the Canadian importation program.

Ultimately, the program still requires approval from the Trump administration, which announced late last year that it was moving ahead with a new rule and guidelines that could eventually allow the state to import prescription drugs to use in government-run programs.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar appeared with DeSantis in making the announcement in December. DeSantis, who is a strong ally of President Donald Trump, has touted the importation plan as a way to help drive down drug costs.

DeSantis pushed the bill through the Legislature last year, giving him permission to seek approval from the federal government.