Florida program to import Canadian drugs attracts zero bidders

Oct. 26, 2020

The state of Florida has hatched a plan that would allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. The only problem? No companies bid on the $30 million contract to run the new program. 

The deadline to submit a bid was the end of September and the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration had hoped to award the contract in December. But according to a Miami Herald report, companies were likely dissuaded by several challenges. 

One issue is that there are still inconsistencies between the Florida plan and legal restrictions that remain in place at the federal level. For example, Florida wants contractors to repackage and relabel the imported drugs — which is not allowed under federal rules set by the HHS.  

The plan was designed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and has been backed by President Trump, who has vowed repeatedly to lower the cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced that states can now apply for permission to import cheaper drugs from Canada and several states — including Vermont, Colorado, Maine and others — are putting plans in motion to take advantage of the new rule. Yet, there are still roadblocks blocking these efforts.

Pushback within the pharma industry remains high and could wage a legal battle against the measures. And Canada has vowed to stop any exports that could trigger or exacerbate drug shortages in its own country, which could hinder the ability of states to find a reliable Canadian partner.

Read the full Kaiser Health News report.