Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed into law a bill allowing foreign drug importation into the state through two programs. The bill comes alongside DeSantis’ efforts to control prices of prescription drugs in the state.
Currently, it is illegal to import prescription drugs from other countries, including Canada. Drugs are typically cheaper because many countries impose caps on the drug’s price, while the US does not.
Specifically, the bill aims to establish two programs: the Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program (CPDI Program) and the International Prescription Drug Importation Program (IPDI Program). The CPDI program will be regulated by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and focus on importing drugs for state programs such as Medicaid, the Department of Corrections and county health departments. The IPDI Program, regulated by the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, will focus on more commercial use and consumer access.
The bill requires both programs to seek federal approval before implementation. The power to create such state-specific drug importation program lies within the federal Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. The act permits states to import foreign drugs subject to approval from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Historically, HHS Secretaries have resisted purposed importation plans. For example, Vermont’s drug importation plan (passed in 2018) remains unapproved. Nevertheless, DeSantis stated in a press release that his administration “is currently working closely with the White House and [HHS].”