Prescription Drug Importation Law Introduced

House Bill 4294 has been introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates permitting the State to designate a state agency to become a drug wholesaler to import pharmaceuticals from Canada to provide cheaper drugs to West Virginians.   The bill has been referred to the House Health and Human Resources Committee, which is chaired by Delegate Joe Ellington, one of the sponsors of the proposed law.

Delegates introducing the bill are: Mick Bates (D-Raleigh), Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio), Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), Linda Longstreth (D-Marion), Joe Ellington (R-Mercer), Amy Summers (R-Taylor), Eric Householder (R-Berkeley), Matthew Rohbrach (R-Cabell), Martin Atkinson (R-Roane) and Ben Queen (R-Harrison).   Below are major provisions of the bill.

“Importation program” means a state-administered wholesale importation program where the state is the licensed wholesaler, importing drugs from a licensed, regulated Canadian supplier, solely for distribution to voluntarily-participating, state-licensed, in-state pharmacies and administering providers for the exclusive purpose of dispensing to state residents with a valid prescription.

The Bureau of Medical Services (Medicaid) is to design and establish a wholesale prescription drug importation program in consultation with relevant stakeholders and federal agencies that will meet relevant federal requirements, including safety and cost savings.  To establish this program the Bureau shall designate a state agency to become a licensed wholesaler for the purpose of seeking federal certification and approval to import safe prescription drugs at low cost for West Virginia’s consumers.

The program shall have the following criteria: (1) use Canadian suppliers; (2) process to sample the purity, chemical composition and potency of imported drugs; (3) only important products that have savings; (4) ensure distributed only in West Virginia; (5) pharmacies to charge consumer and health plans the actual acquisition cost of the imported product; (6) health plans shall not reimburse more than the actual acquisition cost of the dispensed, imported product; (7) health plans shall keep formularies up to date; and (8) the profit margin of wholesalers of products shall be limited by a specified amount established by the Bureau.