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FDA approves Florida's plan to import cheaper drugs from Canada

The Food And Drug Administration has given its OK to Florida's plan to import some prescription drugs from Canada.
Sarah Silbiger
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The Food And Drug Administration has given its OK to Florida's plan to import some prescription drugs from Canada.

Florida is one step closer to being able to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

The Food and Drug Administrationsays it has authorizedFlorida's proposed program to import selected drugs.

Under federal law, any state or tribe can submit a proposal for importation, and a few have. The law allows importation of certain prescription drugs in bulk if doing so would save Americans money without adding safety risks. The FDA also has to give its blessing.

Florida's proposal, championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, is the first to be OK'd by the agency.

The state has to clear a lot more hurdles, however, before imports could begin. Among other things, it has to specify which drugs it wants to import, verify that they meet FDA's standards and relabel them.

While the FDA authorization is a major policy change, experts also say it alone won't solve the United States' problem with high-priced drugs.

Canada's drug supply is too small, and the country has already taken steps to protect it.

The pharmaceutical industry has pushed back and is expected to sue.

"We are deeply concerned with the FDA's reckless decision to approve Florida's state importation plan," says a statement from Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of the drug industry trade group PhRMA. "Ensuring patients have access to needed medicines is critical, but the importation of unapproved medicines, whether from Canada or elsewhere in the world, poses a serious danger to public health. ... PhRMA is considering all options for preventing this policy from harming patients."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sydney Lupkin is the pharmaceuticals correspondent for NPR.