Canada issues warning as Florida plan to import drugs raises fears

Health Canada on Monday emphasized its commitment to taking swift action to “safeguard” the country’s prescription drug supply after a U.S. ruling that could see certain drugs imported south of the border from Canada.

The warning comes days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed to allow Florida to import bulk pharmaceuticals, including medication for asthma, diabetes, and HIV, from Canadian wholesalers as a way to avoid the high cost of drugs in that country.

However, Friday’s ruling has raised concerns about potential impacts on the Canadian drug supply.

“The Government of Canada is taking all necessary action to safeguard the drug supply and ensure Canadians have access to the prescription drugs they need and has been clear in its position: bulk importation will not provide an effective solution to the problem of high drug prices in the U.S.,” Health Canada said in Monday’s statement.

The federal Liberal government passed an interim order in November 2020 to restrict exports of drugs that are at risk of shortage in Canada. Health Canada reiterated that it plans to make sure that order is enforced.

The health department said it is actively monitoring the Canadian drug supply and is prepared to enforce corrective measures, issue advisories or take other actions if non-compliance is detected.

“Regulations have been implemented under the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit certain drugs intended for the Canadian market from being sold for consumption outside of Canada if that sale could cause, or worsen, a drug shortage in Canada. This includes all drugs that are eligible for bulk importation to the U.S., including those identified in Florida’s bulk importation plan, or any other US state’s future importation programs,” the statement said.

“Health Canada stands ready to take immediate additional action, if needed, to help safeguard the Canadian drug supply.”

Canadian Pharmacists Association vice-president of public affairs Joelle Walker said hearing that the Canadian government will take necessary steps, “sends a signal to the U.S.”

“Canada’s not in support of this and that they’ll take whatever measures necessary for Canadians,” she said.

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