Drug Importation in Florida: An Overview

Map of Florida with a pill bottle displaying a maple leaf. As it peels away, the label shows a poison symbol

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 released an Invitation to Negotiate to solicit importation vendors on June 30, 2020. No vendors had bid on the program as of the September 29, 2020 deadline.

On November 23, 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida had submitted it's application to HHS for permission to run a Canadian importation program. A copy of the plan has not yet been made public..

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

“…barriers will delay or prevent drug importation,” say regulatory experts

October 14, 2020

In this analysis, which was published in Lexology on October 13, 2020, three global regulatory experts examine barriers to drug importation.

Sarah Ruth Bates

“These drugs would go through additional shipping, inspection and repackaging. Why would they be cheaper?”

September 2, 2020

In this editorial, which was published in WBUR’s Cognoscenti on September 2, 2020, writer Sarah Ruth Bates explains why Canadian drug importation is too expensive and elaborate a solution to be effective.

Photo of patient advocate John Adams

Canadian patient advocate urges American friends to reject the “empty promises” of importation

August 14, 2020

In this August 14, 2020 editorial, Best Medicines Coalition chair John Adams explains why Canadian importation will not lower U.S. medicine prices—and why the “concept of cheap drugs from Canada has never been anything more than a political hallucination.”

Former FDA Associate Commissioner Warns of the “Massive Safety Risks of Importation”

March 3, 2020

This editorial by Peter J. Pitts was published in The Times Weekly on March 3, 2020. Mr. Pitts is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and a former FDA associate commissioner. Keep Canadian drugs out of U.S. medicine cabinets The Trump administration recently proposed two rules that would allow states, pharmacies,…

photo of Ujjal Dosanjh

Canadian drug importation is “an economic fantasy,” former Canadian health minister says.

March 2, 2020

In this editorial in The Globe and Mail, Ujjal Dosanjh, formerly a federal minister of health and a premier of British Columbia, explains that drug manufacturers have no incentive to sell Canadian provinces more medicine to fill the needs of U.S. residents. Importation will lead to drug shortages in Canada and counterfeit drug trafficking to the U.S.

Canadian health law experts predict: Canada won’t end up as the drugstore to the U.S.

January 16, 2020

This editorial by David C. Rosenbaum and Dara Jospé was published in the Financial Post on January 16, 2020. Rosenbaum is a partner of the law firm Fasken. Jospé is an associate for the same company.

Academic Warns That State Drug Importation Proposals Threaten Patients and Innovation

January 10, 2020

This editorial by Dr. Kristina M. L. Acri née Lybecker was published in IP Watchdog on January 2, 2020. Dr. Acri is an Associate Professor of Economics at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and Chair of the Department of Economics and Business.

Emory Health Policy Professor Says Drug Importation a Danger to Patient Health

October 8, 2019

This editorial by Dr. Kenneth E. Thorpe was published in Town Hall on October 8, 2019. Dr. Thorpe is a professor of health policy at Emory University and chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.

photo of the author, C. Michael White

Pharmacy professor: buying prescription drugs from Canada “risky in terms of quality and safety”

September 27, 2019

This editorial by C. Michael White was published in The Conversation on September 27, 2019. White is a professor and head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice for the University of Connecticut.

Former FDA Associate Commissioner Says Canada Cannot Be America’s Pharmacy

September 12, 2019

This editorial by Peter J. Pitts was published in The Washington Times on September 11, 2019. Mr. Pitts is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and a former FDA associate commissioner.

What can you do?

Reform domain name policy to stop COVID-19 and other healthcare scams

On May 8, 2020,  PSM wrote Congressional leaders in the House and Senate urging them to require domain name sellers to suspend and lock websites that facilitate COVID-19 and other health fraud, and re-open registration information so that law enforcement can pursue criminals using websites to take advantage of the public.

PSM Coverage: