Pharmacists Skeptical of Drug Import Bill

Florida Bill HB19, which would make it easy to import drugs from Canada and other foreign countries with the intention of lowering prescription drug costs, was approved yesterday by the Florida House Subcommittee on Health Quality.

The governor and other lawmakers envision authorizing drugs from foreign producers as a way to reduce health care costs. According to a 2017 article in the Financial Times, Americans spend about $1,112.00 per person on prescription drugs each year, the highest among industrialized nations. Canadians come in at number two, their average annual prescription drug expenditures about 44% lower than the U.S.

Detractors of HB19 say that allowing foreign imports would seriously reduce overall drug quality and safety, both of which are stringently controlled and enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Pharmacists who met with lawmakers in Tallahassee expressed their concerns about the bill, in that it does nothing to address what they see as a primary reason for higher drug costs: pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

These PBMs, said Dawn Butterfield, owner of West Cocoa Pharmacy in Cocoa, are the middlemen of the drug distribution network. In any supply chain, costs are added for every handling stop in that chain, so that by the time the drug reaches the consumer, it has been handled far too many times. By eliminating PBMs, Butterfield said, the state could go a long way towards lowering drug costs. “The middleman costs everyone money,” she said.

In addition to quality and safety concerns, opponents of HB19 warn that such legislation could ease the way for counterfeit drugs from foreign countries to be imported into the United States. In Canada, one highly addictive version of oxycontin (more addictive than any U.S. brand) was making the Canadian opioid crisis even worse. Unfortunately, the Canadian government took their time in pulling it off the market.

Most Pharmacist advocacy organizations ultimately agree that eliminating the PBMs is the best start towards lowering prescription drug costs, not authorizing imports from foreign countries which could seriously compromise drug quality and safety.

Pharmacist Advocacy: Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency

Read the latest on Florida House Bill HB19 – Prescription Drug Importation Programs

Article Source: The Capitolist