Cheaper prescriptions could soon be available to Floridians

Lawmakers want to import cheaper drugs from Canada to lower costs for Floridians. (MGN)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE)- Florida lawmakers were told plans are moving ahead to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada Tuesday.

However, taxpayers, not patients, are likely to be the first beneficiary of the plan.

Low income Floridians receiving Medicaid are likely going to be among the first to see cheaper prescriptions coming from Canada, according to Senate Health Policy Chair Gayle Harrell.

“People are really really challenged these days to afford their life saving medications,” said Harrell.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has developed a list of state agencies that are likely to be able to take advantage of cheaper drugs.

“Flordia Medicaid, County Health Departments, mental health treatment facilities, developmental disability centers licensed by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and the Department of Corrections,” said AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew.

150 drugs have been identified.

HIV treatments are likely to offer the most savings.

The state alone expects to save $150 million a year by bringing in cheaper Canadian drugs.

Mayhew is hopeful approval from the Federal Government will come within 18 months.

“So I am optimistic there is a sense of urgency in Washington,” said Mayhew.

But lawmakers were also told the Canadian government itself has raised some concerns.

“Are we going to be taking away their drugs and leaving individuals in Canada without adequate supply? Obviously, that is not our intent,” said Mayhew.

A second part of the legislation which would offer cheaper imports to pharmacies across the board is still in the initial planning stages.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which is charged with developing the plan to get cheaper Canadian drugs into pharmacies will present its plan to lawmakers in December.