Next steps eyed on importing prescription drugs

A state pharmacy panel will meet next week to discuss additional steps Florida needs to take to establish a program to import prescription drugs from other countries.

The Florida Board of Pharmacy Rules Subcommittee will meet June 27 to discuss a new law that would allow Florida to establish a drug-importation program and the “international export pharmacy permits” that will be required to participate. The panel will consider a draft version of an application for the international export pharmacy permits, an agenda for the meeting shows.

The Rules Subcommittee is the first step in the rule approval process. Ultimately, the change would require approval from the full Board of Pharmacy.

The drug importation bill (HB 19) was pushed during this year’s legislative session by Gov. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Jose Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican who has made health-care changes a top priority.

The new law would allow Florida to establish Canadian and international drug-importation programs. The Canadian program would be under the auspices of the state Agency for Health Care Administration and would be focused on importing drugs for programs such as Medicaid, the Department of Corrections and county health departments.

The international drug importation program would be geared to the broader state population. To participate in that program would require “international export pharmacy permits.”

Though lawmakers endorsed the plan, it still would require federal approval. DeSantis, who won the governor’s race with the support of President Donald Trump, has insisted his close relationship would help win over skeptical federal officials who have refused to endorse similar proposals from other states.