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FDA Approves Florida To Become the First State To Import Drugs From Canada

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FDA Approves Florida to Become the First State to Import Drugs From Canada
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On Friday, January 5th, 2024, the Food and Drug Administration made a decision that many citizens applaud as forward-thinking. They decided to allow Florida to import drugs from Canada, making it the first-ever state to do so. 

Why does Florida intend to import drugs from another country when it has some big pharmaceutical companies already? It is because they are too expensive. America as a whole has been battling the high cost of medicine for years, and citizens are complaining every day. 

Florida is just one of the many states that want to import drugs to reduce the prices for its citizens. For example, Colorado submitted its application, and the FDA is still reviewing it.

The agency rejected that of New Hampshire and deemed Vermont’s application incomplete. Therefore, it is obvious that most states are on board with the importation of drugs from Canada. 

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The FDA Commissioner Robert Califf also reiterated that the agency is “committed to working with states and Indian tribes” seeking to import drugs from Canada. “These proposals must demonstrate the programs would result in significant cost savings to consumers without adding risk of exposure to unsafe or ineffective drugs.”

Therefore, they are allowing Florida to import drugs for two years to see how effective it is. During these two years, the state must submit quarterly reports to the agency about cost savings and potential safety issues.

These drugs would majorly treat chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and mental illnesses. Later on, they intend to expand the drug importation for Medicaid recipients. 

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According to Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, this program will be cost-effective and would save the state up to $180 million in the first year alone. He also believes that these drugs would be low-cost but lifesaving alternatives. 

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“It’s about time that the FDA put patients over politics and the interests of Floridians over Big Pharma,” DeSantis said. 

However, there may be several obstacles along the way to this plan. First, the drug makers in the state would most definitely challenge the FDA decision in court. Stephen Ubl, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, challenged this decision immediately. 

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“We are deeply concerned with the FDA’s reckless decision to approve Florida’s state importation plan. PhRMA is considering all options for preventing this policy from harming patients,” he said. 

Another huge concern is that the Canadian government might not want to trade their drugs with Florida. This is because they may not have enough drugs for their citizens. So, they would rather not export the little they have. 

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In 2020, Canadian Minister of Health Patricia Hajdu ordered companies not to export any drugs if doing so would create or worsen shortages at home in Canada. After the FDA’s announcement, Canada’s Health Minister Mark Holland said the country has regulations to ensure ample pharmaceutical supply.

“Canadians can be confident that our government will continue to take all necessary measures to protect the drug supply in Canada,” he said in a statement. However, DeSantis and his team are very confident and believe they can make it work, so the citizens, as well as other states, are watching closely to see how it’ll go. 

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