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Drug import plan could save Florida $150 million

An assortment of drugs.
Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

Florida could save up to $150 million in the first year that a prescription-drug importation program from Canada is fully in place, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller told a House panel Wednesday.

Lawmakers in 2019 approved pursuing a plan to import lower-cost drugs from Canada for government health-care programs. The state, which continues to wait for a key approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, expects to import drugs to treat asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, hepatitis C, HIV and AIDS and mental-health conditions.

A first phase would provide drugs to programs involving the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Corrections. A second phase would provide drugs for the state’s mammoth Medicaid program.

“That’s where the rubber’s really going to meet the road,” Marstiller told members of the House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee. The estimated savings of up to $150 million would come in the first year that both phases are in effect. It is not clear when the Food and Drug Administration could sign off on the plan, though Marstiller said she hopes “it’s going to get done soon.”

News Service of Florida