The administration on Wednesday proposed new regulations that would allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada. They would require a state such as Florida to partner with a wholesaler licensed by Health Canada, which regulates drugs.
Florida and other states have said they are eager to start importation programs, and the proposal took the federal government one step closer to approving that plan. But there are practical barriers to actually bringing in drugs.
Two drug distributors and two Canadian industry groups that between them represent all of the potential suppliers named in a proposal published by Florida in August said they are not interested in participating.
“We have not been contacted and we are not planning to participate,” said Loblaw Companies Ltd (L.TO), which owns Canada’s largest pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart. “Canadian patients currently face product and drug shortages and we are concerned this initiative may exacerbate what is already a critical issue.”
Daniel Chiasson, president of the Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management (CAPDM), said none of its members would participate because their first priority was ensuring a safe and stable supply of medication for Canadians.
“It surprised everyone when their names appeared on that list,” said Chiasson.
Mary Mayhew, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, said she was “excited and enthusiastic” about Wednesday’s announcement.
“We are optimistic that Canadian suppliers will be interested, as the rule is understood, as there is more dialogue around this new and historic federal action,” she said.
Chiasson said agreements between manufacturers and distributors prevent the export of products made for the Canadian market, creating a commercial risk and deterrent to exporting.
“These are issues we continue to consider and are committed to exploring how we might overcome any challenges and issues as we advance the proposed rule,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in a statement.