Meeting in Charleston at the Capitol earlier this week, the West Virginia Legislature continued to weigh whether it would be worth the state joining other states to get federal permission to import some prescription drugs from Canada, one way some states are trying to reduce prescription prices for consumers.
The Legislative Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability heard Monday from researchers at the National Academy for State Health Health Policy on what states are doing to implement wholesale drug importation programs which would allow states to import drugs from Canada using existing structures in inspect quality.
Delegate Mick Bates, D-Raleigh County, introduced a bill earlier this year creating a wholesale program but delegates chose to study it more in the interim period before going any further. A similar bill was introduced in 2018, reports Richard Stevens, West Virginia Pharmacists Association Executive Director.
Vermont was the first state to begin working on a wholesale importation, with Florida, Colorado and Main getting on board. The states are working together to influence the federal government to approve such a program.
Under federal law, the U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority to allow wholesale importation from Canada if certain standards are met. The U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act allows for drug importation if safety and consumer savings can be assured. Opioids, biologics, injectable medications and certain other drugs may not be imported.
President Donald Trump is working on a proposal that would allow the United States to import drugs from Canada, Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services told CNBC news Tuesday.
“I just got off the phone with him,” said Azar. “Working on a plan on how we can import drugs safely and effectively from Canada so the American people get the benefit of the deals that pharma themselves are striking with other countries.”
Trump has said he’s trying to bring more transparency to drug prices and, ultimately, lower costs for consumers.