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Will some states begin importing low-costing prescription drugs from Canada?


Maybe as early as December 2020.  On September 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) passed a final rule that, when effective, would allow states (such as Florida, Colorado, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Mexico) to import some medications from Canada at lower costs (-- after the safety of the medications was assured and state importation programs received approval from the federal government).

In the summary of the final regulation for importing drugs the FDA/HHS stated:
The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) is issuing a final rule to implement a provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) to allow importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada.  Under this final rule, States and Indian Tribes, and in certain future circumstances pharmacists and wholesalers, may submit importation program proposals to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, the Agency, or we) for review and authorization.  An importation program may be cosponsored by a State, Indian Tribe, pharmacist, or wholesaler.  The final rule contains all requirements necessary for a sponsor to demonstrate that their importation program will pose no additional risk to the public’s health and safety.  In addition, the final rule requires that the sponsor explain how they will ensure their program will result in a significant reduction in the cost of covered [prescription drug] products to the American consumer. [emphasis added]
(https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/importation-final-rule.pdf) (scheduled for publication on 10/01/2020 - https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/10/01/2020-21522/importation-of-prescription-drugs)

In an article reviewing the final rule, AARP noted that:
"The final [FDA drug importation] regulation will allow specific drugs to be imported, as long as they meet federal standards for safety and saving money. Though the rule goes into effect in 60 days, HHS officials could not say when actual importation plans would take effect.  The [drug importation] plan has faced strong objections from the Canadian government and drugmakers, which have said they will go to court to prevent the regulation from taking effect." [emphasis added]
(https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2020/canada-drug-importation-ruling.html)

Currently, any prescription medications purchased outside of the United States are not covered by a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan and do not count toward meeting your drug plan's spending threshold.


Additional information

see the proposed FDA regulation at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/12/ 23/2019-27474/importation-of-prescription-drugs 

see also:  Trump Approves Final Plan to Import Drugs From Canada ‘for a Fraction of the Price’ (09/25/2020)
https://khn.org/news/trump-approves-final-plan-to-import-drugs-from-canada-for-a-fraction-of-the-price/

see also:
"10 FAQs on Prescription Drug Importation" (03/19/2020)
https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/10-faqs-on-prescription-drug-importation/

see also:
  "Canadian drug distributors say no to Trump import plan" (12/20/2019)
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-healthcare-canada/canadian-drug-distributors-say -no-to-trump-import-plan-idUSKBN1YO24O





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