Proposal submitted for drug importation into Florida

CANADA - 2016/01/21: Prescription pills in a yellow bottle over a wooden table with selective depth of field. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Agency for Health Care Administration announced Monday that it had submitted a proposal to the federal government to allow Florida to establish a program to import prescription drugs from Canada.

In a prepared statement issued by his office, Gov. Ron DeSantis said “for far too long Floridians have been paying exorbitant prices for prescription drugs” and promised that his administration “will continue to work collaboratively in an effort to bring affordable prescription drugs to all Floridians.”

The Legislature in 2019 passed a law directing the state to develop a Canadian prescription-drug importation program for certain pharmaceuticals. It was championed by DeSantis and former House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes. Federal officials have had the authority to approve Canadian drug- importation programs, so long as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finalized rules for programs such as the Florida plan.

RELATED: Florida lawmakers pass bill for Canadian drug importation

The rules take effect Nov. 30, which means the state is a week early in submitting its application. The governor’s office said the state will “begin by importing a few drug classes which will include maintenance medications to help individuals and consumers that have chronic health conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.” 

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Kaiser Health News reported Oct. 23 that no private company bid on a $30 million contract Florida offered to vendors interested in establishing and administering the program. The governor's announcement said, though, that AHCA “will soon contract with a vendor to manage and oversee all aspects of the program and ensure Canadian suppliers and eligible importers comply with all federal nd state law requirements.”

The program is opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which aggressively and unsuccessfully lobbied the Legislature to kill the bill. 

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