Drug Importation in Florida: An Overview

FL-hb19

Synopsis:

In April 2019, the Florida State Legislature passed HB19, a bill which requires Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration to establish a Canadian Prescription Drug program and an International Prescription Drug Importation Program.

Under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, Florida is required to submit a plan to HHS to import medicine from Canada that meets requirements set in that legislation.

Current status:

The state submitted a plan to submit a Canadian importation plan to the Federal Health and Human Services Agency on August 23, 2019.

How should we evaluate this program?

The program hasn't started yet, or even been designed, 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. PSM staff followed the debate in Florida and recorded promises made about safety and savings by the sponsors of the legislation.

Official actions and statements

Background / resources

Just learning about the Florida foreign drug importation proposal? Start with some of these resources that outline the safety issues.

PSM Materials:

News Coverage:

Op-eds from the Experts

Florida State Senator Compares Supporting Drug Importation to Believing in the Tooth Fairy

July 17, 2019

This editorial by Perry Thurston Jr. was published in Florida Politics on July 16, 2019. In it, State Senator Thurston explains that state-implemented drug importation will not bring any medication cost savings to Floridians.

Drug Distribution Experts Warn That State Plans To Import Foreign Drugs Will Undermine Safety

July 11, 2019

This editorial by Adam Fein and Dirk Rodgers was published in Stat News on July 11, 2019. In it, Fein and Rodgers warn that plans by states to create drug importation programs will open new pathways for counterfeit drugs to enter the U.S. drug supply chain…

“Canada cannot act as a drugstore for the United States,” says academic

June 19, 2019

In this editorial, which was published by the Fraser Institute on June 13, 2019, economist Dr. Kristina Acri argues against importation, concluding: “Diverting drugs meant for Canadian patients to the U.S. through state importation schemes will create shortages for Canadian patients and increase pressure on potentially unscrupulous suppliers to source drugs from wherever they can, opening the door to counterfeiters.”

Drug Importation threatens people with chronic illnesses, says advocate.

June 12, 2019

This editorial by Guy Anthony was published in the Orlando Sentinel on June 12, 2019. Anthony, President and CEO of Black, Gifted & Whole, a nonprofit focused on issues surrounding black, queer men, warns that drug importation will open up “a market for dangerous, counterfeit drugs” that will make it harder for people to live with HIV and other complex illnesses.

Economist questions the fundamentals of importation: “It flunks a basic policy analysis.”

April 29, 2019

In this editorial published on April 26, 2019, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, economist and President of American Action Forum, questions economic truths about drug importation:

“Drug reimportation has long been the fool’s gold of health policy, and the Florida bill is no different. It flunks a basic policy analysis. But most amazing, it is drafted to raise hope, but not actually help Floridians.”

Journalist on drug importation: “There is a real risk.”

April 28, 2019

In this piece published in the Washington Free Beacon on April 25, 2019, staff writer Charles Fain Lehman explores issues around Florida’s drug importation proposal. “Critics,” he notes, “fear that the actual realities of regulatory oversight—especially in the hand of an as-yet-unnamed private vendor—will simply be too challenging to manage responsibly.”

The Bottom Line? “Importation will make it difficult to ensure that Floridians are receiving real and safe medicine.”

April 26, 2019

In this piece, which was published on the ABC affiliate WJLA’s website on April 25, 2019, political analyst Boris Epshteyn explains that “this is a risky plan that will make it difficult to ensure that Floridians are receiving real and safe medicine.”

The case against importation: “There are simply too many channels for fake drugs to enter any importation scheme”

April 23, 2019

In this piece, which was published in the Inside Sources on April 22, 2019, Michael Graham reviews the case against drug importation: “As Scott Gottlieb said in 2016 before becoming President Trump’s FDA chief…’There are simply too many channels for fake drugs to enter any importation scheme to forgo some meaningful controls.’”

Oncology Practice Managers: This “drug importation proposal that could put Floridians at risk”

April 22, 2019

In this editorial, which was published in the Palm Beach Post on April 22, 2019, Michelle Flowers writes about Florida’s history of black market cancer treatments and the danger importation poses to patients. Flowers is president of the Oncology Managers of Florida.

Santa Cruz Sentinel logo

Importation “Too Good to Be True, ” Business Columnist Warns

April 19, 2019

In this editorial, which was published in The Santa Cruz Sentinel on April 18, 2019, business columnist Jeffrey Scharf argues that importation of prescription drugs is a plan that is too good to be true.