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Canadian medication imports on the horizon for Colorado


Aug 18, 2022

By Helen Lewis - Colorado Springs Business Journal

Colorado is a step closer to importing medications from Canada, in a push to cut prescription costs.

Gov. Jared Polis’ office today announced partnerships with AdiraMedica LLC, Premier Pharmaceuticals LLC and Denver’s Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety — a major milestone in making Colorado’s Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program a reality.

Once it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the program is expected to save consumers and employers an average of more than 60 percent on prescription meds, Polis’ office said.

It was 2019 when Polis signed SB19-005, the bipartisan bill authorizing the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) to seek approval from the federal government for a program to give Coloradans access to Canada’s lower-priced drugs.

“Saving people money and lowering health care costs has been a top priority of our administration since day one, and now we have a major piece in place to make drugs more affordable,” Polis said. “Colorado’s Drug Importation Program is an important step to lowering the cost of prescription drugs and keeping more money in people's pockets.”

In 2021, Polis also signed the bipartisanSB21-123 which authorized HCPF to expand drug importation to other trade partner countries, if federal law is amended to allow it.

HCPF’s in-depth analysis of Colorado drug prices versus those in other countries, found expanding importation to other countries, like Australia or France, could mean even higher savings — an average of 78 percent and 84 percent, respectively.

The partners announced yesterday are:

AdiraMedica LLC, a U.S. wholesaler and their subsidiary located in Ontario, Canada will be Colorado’s foreign seller — the primary conduit with Canadian manufacturers. They will buy the products for Colorado’s program and ensure they meet specifications for exportation to the United States.

Premier Pharmaceuticals LLC is a U.S. wholesaler located in Boise, Idaho and will be Colorado’s importer. They will be the primary distributor once medications come into the U.S. and will sell the medications to participating Colorado pharmacies.

Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety will be responsible for all FDA-required adverse event reporting as well as responding to consumer inquiries.

“If you look closely at the labels on your prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, you will find many prescriptions are already manufactured in other countries,” said Kim Bimestefer, executive director of HCPF. “Our Canadian Drug Importation program will not only reduce the cost of prescription drugs to the benefit of Coloradans and our employers, but will do so safely and in compliance with all federal safety guidelines.”

The FDA indicates 78 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients (used to make the finished product) are foreign-made. All drugs imported through the program will be subject to additional testing for authenticity and degradation.

Importation of certain prescription drugs was made possible through a change in federal policy in November 2020. Colorado is one of several states implementing state-led importation programs.


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