SARASOTA (WWSB) - Imported prescription drugs from Canada could be sold in Florida if the House of Representatives is ready to allow it.
House Bill 19 was approved Thursday by the Health and Human Services Committee and they are seeking to establish two drug-importation programs with the bill. One would authorize Florida to establish the Canadian Drug Importation Program so the state can purchase drugs at a discounted price to be used for Medicaid and prison health care.
The second program is called the International Drug Importation Program and it is meant for individual residents . House bill sponsor Tom Leek hopes the measure will help consumers who struggle with high drug costs.
“Instead of allowing the free market to control the cost of prescriptions, we have allowed our government to create a regulatory scheme so complex and so convoluted that we have stacked the deck against the consumer," Leek said.
Opposition to the bill has come from several health care special interests which includes physician and pharmacy groups. Shabbir (Shuh-beer) Safdar with the Partnership for Safe Medicines says his group is comprised of doctors, retailers, and manufacturers.
“Importation is not safe to implement, it is very expensive and it will not actually achieve cost savings," Shabar said.
The Florida Senate is also moving a drug importation bill through the process, as similar legislation cleared it first Senate committee stop this week. That bill has a more narrow scope but does authorize the state to pursue a waiver to allow for the importation of drugs from Canada.