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Colorado Wants to Import Prescription Drugs from Canada. It May Work, Maybe Not

A bill making its way through the Colorado General Assembly with the support of Gov. Jared Polis would create a program to start importation of prescription drugs from Canada by 2022. Colorado is trying to become one of the first states in the nation to import prescription drugs from Canada, a hope to give consumers relief from soaring pharmaceutical costs.

President Donald Trump supports doing so in at least some situations, suggesting a path forward on a practice that has long been opposed by federal administrations on both sides of the aisle.

It won’t be a cure-all for America’s prescription drug costs, which have left as many as one in three Coloradans resorting to cutting doses in half or forgoing their medication entirely to make ends meet, according to a recent Colorado Consumer Health Initiative survey. The program would be limited to certain high-cost drugs where the price difference between the U.S. and Canada is the most significant.

The opponents say it could open the floodgates to counterfeit medications that threaten public health. But supporters insist the program – which will cost $2.7 million to set up – would have adequate safeguards. And they say it collectively could save Coloradans millions on some of the most expensive name-brand drugs that have no lower-cost alternatives in the U.S.

Can it be done legally ?  Yes, if Colorado can convince federal regulators that the program meets two criteria:

  1. The drugs can’t pose any additional risk to American consumers than medicine the Food and Drug Administration has already certified as safe.
  2. The drugs must provide a “significant” cost savings to American consumers, after all the extra expenses of importing them.

That will be a big hurdle. Thus far, there’s no precedent for the federal government permitting a program like this. Then again, until recently, no one’s ever tried.

If Senate Bill 5 is approved, the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), would work with a pharmaceutical sales and international trade expert to identify a list of medications that would provide the greatest cost savings.

The department would also have to figure out the logistics. Either the state or a private entity would serve as the middleman — a wholesaler that would purchase the drugs from Canada and market them to participating Colorado pharmacies for resale in Colorado.

Read Senate Bill 19-005

Source: The Colorado Sun



Contact Alexis Hertel at

(303) 322-2228

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