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Bloomberg reports the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to allow the state of Florida "to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, giving the green light to a plan that could spur other states to follow suit."

The FDA said that Florida's state health department must "provide quarterly reports to the agency, including information on cost savings and potential safety and quality issues."

According to the story, "The FDA decision is the first time the agency has authorized a state to import drugs in bulk from a foreign country, according to an agency spokesperson. It’s also the latest turn in a back and forth between states and the federal government over importing cheaper drugs.

"In addition to Florida, states such as Colorado, North Dakota, and Vermont have laws that allow importation of drugs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than five of those states have asked the FDA for approval, the conference said."

Bloomberg goes on:

"The state plans to first provide prescription medications for things like mental illness, prostate cancer, and HIV/AIDS, particularly for people in the care of Florida programs such as the the Department of Corrections and Department Health.

From there, the program is slated to broaden to offer imports to state Medicaid members.

"The FDA noted that before Florida can import products, the state needs to submit extra drug-specific information for approval, among other steps."

KC's View:

There seems to be some debate about exactly how impactful this move will be.  There will be some limitations on the number of prescription drugs that can be imported since Canadian manufacturers are said to be concerned about shortages.  But this would seem to be the opening of a door that, while it is not wide open at the moment, will only get wider.  The question is the degree to which this shift will affect retailers with pharmacies.