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Canada says bulk importation not an effective solution to high drug prices in U.S.

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The Canadian government thinks bulk importation will not provide an effective solution to the problem of high drug prices in the United States after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed Florida to import cheaper drugs from Canada, Health Canada said on Monday.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

U.S. drug costs are higher than in Canada and other countries where government-run healthcare systems negotiate prices for individual prescription drugs.

Florida on Friday won authorization from the FDA to directly import prescription drugs from Canada, the first state to get such approval for a strategy that could lower prices for medicines.

KEY QUOTES

"The Government of Canada is taking all necessary action to safeguard the drug supply and ensure Canadians have access to the prescription drugs they need and has been clear in its position: bulk importation will not provide an effective solution to the problem of high drug prices in the U.S.," Health Canada said in a statement.

The statement noted regulations to prohibit certain drugs intended for the Canadian market from being sold for consumption outside of Canada if that sale could cause a drug shortage in Canada.

"The Department will not hesitate to take immediate action to address non-compliance, ranging from requesting a plan for corrective measures, issuing a public advisory or other forms of communication, to taking action on the licenses of regulated parties who contravene the export prohibition if warranted.

CONTEXT

In the past, Canada's government has opposed any U.S. plans to buy prescription medicines, citing threats to the country's drugs supply or higher costs for its own citizens.

For years, U.S. supporters of importation policy have said buying drugs from elsewhere could help lower costs in the U.S., where more than half of Americans are covered by private health plans.

Florida still needs to submit drug-specific information for FDA review and approval as well as evidence that the drugs it seeks to import have been tested to comply with FDA standards, the agency said.

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