Florida First State To Get FDA Approval To Import Canadian Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration has signed off on Florida's first-in-the-nation plan to import prescription drugs from Canada.

“Individuals in the United States are allowed to buy directly from Canadian pharmacies, but states have long wanted to be able to purchase medicines in bulk for their Medicaid programs, government clinics and prisons from Canadian wholesalers,” according toThe New York Times. 

Florida has demonstrated that the plan will significantly reduce the cost of drugs to the American consumer without posing additional risk to the public’s health and safety, per an FDA statement.

“Democratic President Joe Biden has backed such programs as a way to lower prices, signing an executive order in 2021 that directed the FDA to work with states on imports,” according to The Associated Press.



Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the plan into law in 2019, but needed federal approval to proceed.

DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, blames the Biden administration for the long wait, according to Politico.

But the White House on Friday called the action “a step in the right direction” and encouraged more states to apply for similar programs, according to The Associated Press.

Colorado is working with the FDA on a similar application.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said other states seeking similar approvals "must demonstrate the programs would result in significant cost savings to consumers without adding risk of exposure to unsafe or ineffective drugs,” according to Reuters.

But drug pricing experts said the importation plan could be difficult to put into place. The U.S. population is nearly 10 times the size of Canada, said Dan Ollendorf, chief scientific officer at the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.

“U.S. drug costs are higher than in Canada and other countries where government-run healthcare systems negotiate prices for individual prescription drugs,” according to Reuters. “But importation faces challenges. In the past, Canada's government has opposed any U.S. plans to buy prescription medicines, citing threats to the country's drugs supply or higher costs for its own citizens.”

It should come as no surprise that Big Pharma is opposed to the plan.

“The U.S. pharmaceutical industry has said the plan will not lead to lower costs for consumers and will put the safety of the drug supply at risk,” per Reuters.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry's leading trade group, said it is “deeply concerned” about the plan. 

”The importation of unapproved medicines, whether from Canada or elsewhere in the world, poses a serious danger to public health," PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl said in a statement.

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