Florida requested FDA approval to import certain drugs from Canada, and was approved Friday, marking the first time a state has been authorized to buy lower-cost medications in bulk from abroad. Via CNN:
Florida’s plan calls for importing medications for several illnesses for residents covered by certain public programs, including Medicaid enrollees and inmates.
The historic move is the latest salvo in the long-running battle to lower drug prices, one of Americans’ biggest health care headaches and a major element of President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, is also highlighting his importation proposal as he seeks to curtail drug costs.[…] Florida, which filed its proposal with the FDA in 2020, initially wants to import drugs to treat chronic health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, mental illness and prostate cancer, the governor’s office said in a press release Friday.
The state would make the imported drugs available to patients at county health departments managed by the state Department of Health, inmates at state correctional facilities and certain others served by state agencies. The program would then expand to Medicaid enrollees.
Florida expects to save up to $180 million in the first year and around $183 million annually once the program is fully implemented, the state said.
While US law allows drug importation, it never gained traction because of federal health officials’ concerns over safety and actual savings as well as fierce opposition from American drug manufacturers and Republican lawmakers.