Drug Importation in Vermont: An Overview

VT-S 175

Synopsis:

In May 2018, the Governor of Vermont signed S 175, a bill which directs the Agency of Human Services to design a program for wholesale importation of prescription drugs into Vermont from Canada that complies with federal requirements.

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

Current status:

The state is developing a plan to submit a Canadian importation plan to the Federal Health and Human Services Agency (HHS). On August 15, 2019 news outlets reported that Governor Scott had asked to meet with HHS Secretary Alex Azar II to determine whether Vermont would be permitted to run a pilot project in advance of federal rulemaking.

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.

Official actions and statements

Background / resources

Learn more about

Testimony Opposing the Bill

Op-eds from the Experts

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…

Canadian Policy Researcher Warns That Importation Plans By U.S. States Would Leave Canada Without Crucial Medicines

June 11, 2019

This editorial by Nigel Rawson was published in The Hills Times on June 9, 2019. Dr. Rawson, president of Eastlake Research Group, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, and an affiliated scholar with the Canadian Health Policy Institute, warns that Canada would run out of necessary medicine if U.S. states begin drug importation programs…

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.’”

Vermont: Still #1 in Dumb Healthcare Ideas

June 15, 2018

Earlier this month, in the midst of an opioid epidemic ravaging the state, Vermont’s legislature voted to legalize buying drugs from Canada, where government-set price controls keep prices artificially low.

Wholesale Drug Importation From Canada Won’t Lower Prices, But Will Increase Health Risks Says Vermonter

May 16, 2018

By approving the wholesale reimportation of U.S. prescription drugs from Canada, the Vermont Legislature passed an illegal measure that will not lower drug prices. Instead, it will subject Vermonters to public health risks and new taxes to defray an inevitable federal lawsuit.