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Drug Importation in Colorado: An Overview

map of colorado with pill bottle displaying a maple leaf label. The label peels back to show a poison symbol


In May 2019, the Governor of Colorado signed SB19-005, a bill which creates a "Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program" in the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

first page of colorado SIP analysis

Read PSM's analysis of Colorado's March 2020 Draft Importation Plan

Current status:

Colorado published a draft proposal of the program in March 2020 along with comments to HHS on the proposed federal importation guidelines. Their comments revealed that the architects of the plan don't think importation can work financially as designed because of the small size of the Canadian drug supply and the cost requirements of testing.


PSM has documented several problems with the draft proposal for Colorado's program in this analysis.

How should we evaluate this program?

The program hasn't started yet so there's no way to measure whether it saved money or kept patients safe, both promises made at the time of passage. However, the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act contains requirements for safety requirements built into any such program.

Official actions and statements

  • January 2021: The Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing publishes the second edition of Reducing Prescription Drug Costs in Colorado: Cost Drivers and
    Strategies to Address Them
  • October 15, 2020: The Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing updates stakeholders: Slides
  • September 23, 2020: Department of Health and Human Services Alex Azar certified that Canadian drug importation would pose no additional threats to consumers and would save Americans a significant amount of money on prescription drugs.
  • June 10, 2020: The House Committee on Health & Insurance postponed SB20-119, which would have expanded Colorado's importation program beyond Canada, indefinitely.
  • March 9, 2020: Colorado releases draft importation proposal and appendices.
  • February 13, 2020: Colorado Health and Human Services Committee hearing on SB 119
  • January 2020: The Colorado legislature considers SB20-119, which would expand importation from Canada to prescription drug suppliers from other nations.
  • May 16, 2019: Colorado SB19-005 is signed into Law
  • October 11, 2019: The Department for Healthcare and Public Financing issues RFIs to pharmacies and wholesalers.
  • November 2019: Colorado's Department of Health Care Policy & Financing held webinars to engage stakeholders: Slides

Planning documents

Op-eds from the Experts

A Colorado Woman Was Seriously Ill. No One Suspected Her Imported Drugs.

February 5, 2019

In this February 4th, 2019 editorial for Colorado Politics, Denver resident Ali Schroer warns, “I experienced firsthand the dangers of counterfeit, imported drugs, and was critically ill for months as we sought to uncover the source of my illness.”