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Editor's note: This story has been updated with the Florida bill signing.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Tuesday authorizing the state to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries, potentially lowering the cost of lifesaving medicines that millions of people take every day.
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a similar bill in May. Vermont was the first state in the country to enact a drug importation law. All three states need approval from the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to begin their programs, and while HHS officials have signaled their opposition to such measures in the past, President Trump has directed Secretary Alex Azar to work with Florida on its program and told Polis in a phone call that he supported Colorado’s effort.
“On behalf of more than 2.8 million AARP members throughout Florida, we applaud the governor’s signature on this legislation,” says AARP’s Florida acting state director, Jack McRay.
“Importing safe, affordable, Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription drugs from Canada and other countries is one of several important steps to bring down the high cost of prescription drugs for millions of Floridians.”
The Florida law creates two prescription drug importation programs:
- The Canadian Drug Importation Program focuses on bringing down the cost of drugs to state-funded programs, such as Medicaid and the state prison system.
- The International Prescription Drug Importation Program would allow medicines to be imported from Canada and other countries. The drugs would get to consumers through wholesale distributors, pharmacies and pharmacists.
“Floridians have been paying inexcusably high prices for prescription drugs for far too long, and today, we are taking action,” says DeSantis.