U.S. permits Florida to import drugs from Canada, could save $150 million US annually

wholesale prescription drugs. Image credit: Unsplash

Wholesale Prescription Drugs. Image credit: Unsplash

Florida is the first US state allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to import certain drugs from Canada which could reportedly save Florida an estimated $150 million US annually.

Having set up a federal regulatory agency decades ago to ensure patent drug prices are not excessive, Canada has resisted such import plans for years.

But Canada has also said that it is following safeguards to prevent shortage of prescription drugs that Florida is importing from Canadian wholesalers to treat such conditions as HIV/AIDS, diabetes and hepatitis C.

“I want to assure Canadians that they will continue to have access to medications they need when they need them,”  federal Health Minister Mark Holland reported saying In a media statement and added, 

“Canadians can be confident that our government will continue to take all necessary measures to protect the drug supply in Canada.”

According to Health Canada there are provisions under the Food and Drugs Act that prohibit certain drugs from being sold outside of the country “if that sale could cause, or worsen, a drug shortage in Canada.”

A Health Canada spokesperson said in a media statement that it is “actively monitoring the Canadian drug supply and continues to ensure that Canadians have access to the drugs that they need.”

“Historically, we’ve had some pretty devastating drug shortages in Canada…I’m skeptical that it will actually come to fruition in its current form…to make sure…that we’re not missing something.” Joelle Walker, vice president of public affairs for the Canadian Pharmacists Association was reported saying and  urged Canadians not to rush out to stock up on their prescriptions, which could trigger shortages.

Americans have been buying drugs from Canada for some time.

Decision could harm Canadians, warns trade group

Innovative Medicines Canada, a trade group that represents about 50 pharma companies, said allowing Florida to import drugs meant for Canadians could “disrupt” Canada’s health-care system.

“Canada simply can’t supply drugs to Florida, or any other U.S. states, without significantly increasing the risk and severity of drug shortages nationwide,” David Renwick, interim president of Innovative Medicines Canada, said in a statement.

“The U.S. market is nearly 10 times bigger than Canada’s, and allowing drugs that were intended for Canadians to be exported to the U.S. would harm Canadian patients and disrupt our health-care system.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given Florida the go-ahead to buy cheaper wholesale prescription drugs from Canada, which has reignited fears of drug shortages in this country.

Calling the FDA’s decision “reckless.” the head of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), one of the largest pharmaceutical industry lobby groups in the U.S. was reported saying that the importation of unapproved medicines, whether from Canada or elsewhere in the world, poses a serious danger to public health, said PhRMA president Stephen Ubl in a media statement.

“PhRMA is considering all options for preventing this policy from harming patients.”