Partnership for Safe Medicines statement in response to the New York State Senate’s passage of Senate Bill S604

Washington, D.C.  Shabbir Imber Safdar, Executive Director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, released the following statement in response to the New York State Senate’s passage of Senate Bill S604, which would create a wholesale prescription drug importation program to make medicines more affordable for New York’s residents.

“New York is following other states down a costly path that will not lead to savings for its residents. In fact Florida’s recent attempts at bulk importing Canadian medicine have cost taxpayers over $25mm and not a single pill has left Canada.

"Past efforts at wholesale importation in Minnesota and Illinois were shut down because their savings – or lack thereof – could not offset the cost of implementation. Recent analysis has found that the cost of required testing will dwarf possible savings and that Medicaid prescription drug prices often offer better prices than an importation program.

“The justification for New York’s bill is based on false assumptions about the accessibility of Canadian drugs. Canada has one-ninth the population of the U.S. and does not have a large enough drug supply to accommodate Americans. There is no way to assure that Canadian wholesalers will export their medicines at the same price Canadians pay for them, or, in the case of shortages, that they will sell U.S. states drugs made for the Canadian market at all. In fact, the Canadian government has already blocked bulk exports of any medicine to the U.S. if it will cause or exacerbate a shortage.  Additionally there is no provision in the legislation to ensure that Pharmacy Benefit Managers in New York State will not simply price up the cost of medicine bought cheaply from Canada.

“Finally, experts have pointed out that wholesale drug importation undercuts the track-and-trace system that the U.S. is implementing. Prescription drugs made for the American market will have electronic records that trace them from FDA-licensed factory floors to state-licensed pharmacies. Because Canada does not have a tracking system; imported medicines will only become traceable when they enter the country, leaving a great deal of opportunity for substandard or fake medicines to be smuggled into our supply chain.

“We all know that we need to find ways to help make drugs more affordable for patients. and we urge leaders in New York to press forward with wiser and more effective proposals. Other states have shown that Canadian drug importation is not a workable solution.”

About the Partnership for Safe Medicines

The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) is a public health group comprised of non-profit organizations that handle medicine from the factory floor to the patient and are committed to the safety of prescription drugs. To learn more, visit