Are we prepared to ignore public health experts yet again?
We're in the middle of a pandemic because we disregarded public health experts, and yet states and HHS are ready to disregard five past FDA commissioners to move forward with foreign drug importation.
States across the country are facing massive budget shortfalls. Florida has allocated $10 million for Canadian drug importation while gutting programs that would bring drinkable water to Pasco County, raise pay for caregivers to the disabled, and treat inmates with contagious and deadly hepatitis C. In Colorado, importation is being considered alongside important education, housing and healthcare initiatives. It is irresponsible to spend millions on programs with such a poor track record.
Past importation efforts have failed: Illinois, Maine and Minnesota invested substantial effort into prescription drug importation in the past. They had substantial trouble ensuring safety and did not save money.
In 2017, four former FDA commissioners warned that drug importation could not be carried out without sacrificing either safety or savings: "Any improved access and cost savings resulting from importation," they wrote, "are likely to be minimal."
Until last year, every HHS Secretary and FDA Commissioner since 2000 ultimately came to the same conclusion.
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb addressed the flaws last year at the National Press Club:
For nearly 20 years, every head of HHS and FDA refused to support drug importation
State drug importation programs are robbing the public of critical programs.
Here's a partial list of programs Governor DeSantis cut in favor of prescription drug importation:
- Sewer upgrades for St. Pete's Beach
- Drinkable water for Pasco County
- The Job Growth Grant Fund
- Vehicles for bomb squads in Hillsborough County and Tampa
- Pay increases for caregivers
- Treatment of Inmates with hepatitis C
We are sacrificing programs states need today, to implement a program that won't be allowed by our Canadian counterparts. What a senseless waste of money.