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Can Canadian drugs lower Florida’s health costs?

A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy in Toronto in this January 31, 2008 file photo. Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada's provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy in Toronto in this January 31, 2008 file photo. Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada's provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Florida hopes to save millions in drug costs by importing medications in bulk from Canada. The Food and Drug Administration approved the move, making Florida the first US state to win such an approval.


Canadians, in turn, have expressed concern over the possible impact on their drug supply, fearing that exports to Florida – and perhaps other US states in the future – could lead to drug shortages at home. But Health Canada has warned that it will act swiftly if exports to Florida pose a threat to Canadian consumers, and officials reassured Canadians this week that Floridians will not be able to deprive them of pharmaceuticals.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, is thrilled. Speaking ahead of a GOP debate against Nikki Haley last night, he took credit for the decision, saying it would save the Sunshine State between $100 and $200 million a year.

American drugs are among the most expensive in the world, which is largely the result of U.S. patent law and a less regulated market, and politicians have long sought solutions. Former President Donald Trump opened the door to imports, a process Joe Biden allowed to continue, and politicians from both parties want credit for taking action on drug prices ahead of this year’s presidential election.

But owing to the limited scope of Florida’s plan, as well as implementation hurdles, experts doubt that imports from Canada are likely to make much of a difference.

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