Committee votes to put wholesale drug importation bill in a study resolution

The House of Delegates Health Committee voted last week to establish a state-administered drug wholesale importation program but only after voting 13 to 11 not to mandate the program without thorough assurance of its economic advantages to the State.

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

Such a program is to be administered by the Bureau for Medical Services, again, if it is found to be a financial advantage to the State and consumers. It will have to meet relevant requirements of federal law, including safety and cost savings. To establish the program, the Bureau is to 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.

In part, the program must conform to the following criteria: (1) The program must use Canadian suppliers; (2) sample the purity, chemical composition, and potency of imported products; (3) import only drugs expected to generate substantial savings for consumers; (4) imported drugs are not to be distributed outside the state; (5) voluntary participating, state-licensed pharmacies and administering providers shall only charge individual consumers and health plans the actual acquisition cost of the imported product; (6) participating health plans to keep their formularies and claims payment systems up to date with the drugs provided through the wholesale program; (7) health plans must base patient cost sharing on no more than the actual acquisition cost of the dispensed imported product; and (8) profit margins of the wholesaler and distributors shall be limited to a specified amount established by the bureau.

The program shall include an audit function to ensure sound methodology by which to determine the most cost-effective products. The bureau is to have a process to select Canadian suppliers of high quality products. Imported drugs are not shipped, sold, or dispensed outside the state once in the possession of the state.

A complete text of the proposed legislation can be found in House Bill 2319, of the West Virginia Legislature:

The House of Delegates Judiciary Committee voted today, January 21, to put House Bill 2319 into a study. Therefore, it is unlikely this proposed legislation will advance during the 2019 Legislature.