Aug 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Florida sues FDA over Canadian drug importation program

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Pennsylvania.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at an event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Florida is suing the Food and Drug Administration claiming that the agency is delaying the state's attempts at importing cheaper prescription medications from Canada, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday.

The big picture: The lawsuit comes even though the Biden administration has previously sided with states applying for the program and announced support for it.

Details: In the lawsuit, filed in Tampa federal court, Florida claims the FDA did not allow the state's application to go through quickly, which halted cheaper medications from reaching the sunshine state.

  • DeSantis said the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) submitted its plan to import drugs from Canada nearly 21 months ago. But the federal government hasn't approved it.
  • Florida officials said at a news conference Wednesday that the Biden administration needs to be more transparent about the state of the program.
  • DeSantis' office pointed to the news release when asked for comment.

What they're saying: “Florida has been ready to deliver cheaper prescription drugs to those that need them for nearly two years,” DeSantis said in a news release. “The lack of transparency by the Biden administration during the approval process, and failure to provide records on the importation proposal, is costing Floridians who are facing rising prices across the board due to inflation."

  • The FDA does not comment on potential, pending or ongoing litigation.
  • Florida's AHCA did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

Catch up quick: Florida was the first state to apply for the Canadian drug importation program in November 2020 under the Trump administration, the governor's office said at the time.

  • In 2021, the Biden administration said the FDA would begin implementing the program and more details would come soon, per Politico.
  • The FDA began discussions about the program with multiple states, including Florida, in April 2022.
  • Florida's AHCA said the FDA has not offered any more information about the program's next steps, Politico reports.

Context: The Canadian prescription importation program would allow states to buy cheaper prescription medications for state-subsidized health care programs, Politico reports. It is a program supported by both the Biden and Trump administrations.

  • The medications would help treat those with diabetes, HIV and other illnesses, per Politico.

Of note: DeSantis previously pushed former President Donald Trump to give Florida full approval for the program.

  • The Biden administration sided with states in response to a lawsuit from companies that looked to prevent the importation policy from happening, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez writes.

Go deeper: Biden administration sides with states in drug import lawsuit

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