Colorado Health and Human Services Committee hearing on SB 119 – February 13, 2020

On February 13, 2020 the Colorado Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing during which a member of the committee asked where the $810,000 to implement drug importation has gone, and what the progress is.

His questions, which are directed to head of the agency and the lead importation pharmacist, begin at 6:56.

Implementing Canadian drug importation has not gone well.

  • The Canadian government met with Colorado legislators to object to the program.
  • To date, Colorado has not found a vendor in Canada willing to go public about doing business with the state.
  • Safety advocates, including PSM, have raised significant concerns about lack of likely savings and the breaking of the promise that these medicines will be protected by track and trace.
  • In March, the state published a list of brand name medicines they wanted to import from Canada when there are generics available on the market in the U.S. for less money. (You can read our analysis of that here.)

The state has spent $810,000 as of February 13, and even now in the fall of 2020, they have nothing to show for it. No vendor, no Canadian cooperation, and significant hurdles in the Federal regulations that make it extremely expensive to implement.

There are other ways to address medicine costs that have a better chance of making a difference. Canadian drug importation seems unlikely to happen, and if it happens it seems unlikely to save money or be safe. Why is Colorado spending nearly a million precious taxpayer dollars on this?