Florida awaiting Biden Administration approval to import prescription drugs from Canada

State hopes to utilize authority in 2003 Medicare Modernization Act

Heap of medical pills in white, blue and other colors. Pills in plastic package. Concept of healthcare and medicine. (OKSANA KAZYKINA, iStock)

LAKELAND, Fla. – Florida is awaiting final approval from the Biden Administration to begin importing FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada utilizing a Congressional measure passed in 2003.

Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Friday in Lakeland at the LifeScience Logistics Distribution Center to provide an update on Florida’s plan to lower prescription costs across the state for consumers and healthcare providers.

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Florida has filed a request to import medications from Canada utilizing authority in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act. DeSantis first announced the plan in February 2019. Over the past two years, Florida submitted a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services addressing all key components needed to safely import prescription drugs. In November, the state sent in its Section 804 Importation Proposal for Florida’s Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program in accordance with all requirements from the HHS and Federal Drug Administration.

Now the state is awaiting final approval from the HHS. Florida’s proposal has been under review for about six months.

“We were told that if it wasn’t denied last week that we should assume it’s going to be approved, but you know we want to get that final approval, because once we do, then all this stuff goes in motion,” DeSantis said, adding the program is expected to save between $80 and $150 million on drug costs in Florida with a year.

The program will be overseen by the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

Florida regulators worked with LifeScience Logistics to construct an FDA-compliant facility in Lakeland to process the pharmaceuticals being imported from Canada. The facility has already passed inspection by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

LifeScience Logistics provides healthcare supply chain solutions including those for pharmaceutical, medical devices and biotech, according to its website. The warehouse in Lakeland is prepped and ready to begin processing and distributing medications imported from Canada. If the state gets approval from the federal government it’s hoping for the facility to be operational within three months, according to DeSantis.

Life Science Logistics CEO Richard Beeny said outside of the empty warehouse awaiting shipments the company also has the IT infrastructure to order the drugs, get them where they need to go and manage security.

“We think it’s good for manufacturers, and we think ultimately good for patients, the savings that we’re able to generate by streamlining that process — in other words going directly to the manufacturer — are going to be significant,” Beeny said. “And what that looks like is cutting out extra steps in the supply chain, no extra steps means that we can control the process from the point of manufacturer, through our rigorous and compliant testing and re-labeling process into this highly secure facility.”

DeSantis said he is asking the Biden administration to approve Florida’s proposal ASAP and to help provide savings to Florida taxpayers.

“We’re ready, willing and able and I think that this could be really really significant,” DeSantis said. “It was not something obviously that the Big Pharma companies wanted to see, just simply because they’ve relied on American taxpayers and American consumers to fuel most of the profits, whereas they’ve been giving all these other countries, much cheaper drugs. And so, so we’re looking for some equity here between the United States.”