TALLAHASSEE – President Joe Biden’s administration filed a petition in federal court on Friday evening seeking to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at preventing Canada’s prescription drug imports – a plan Florida intends to use.
The Biden government movement basically supports Florida and New Mexico, the only other state that has formally begun the process of requesting Canadian imports. The motion calls for a federal court in Washington to file a lawsuit by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents branded drug manufacturers, against the Department of Health and Human Services.
The administration argues that because the rule and process of drug importation has never been officially implemented, the drug industry is acting too soon with its legal challenge.
“Any future implementation, if it occurs, may not occur as plaintiffs experience. Meanwhile, nothing is required of plaintiffs’ members. The complaint thus presents” abstract hypotheses or requests for advisory opinions, “the motion says.
In 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that created a framework allowing Florida to import prescription drugs from Canada – a move that needs federal approval. The initial phases began under the administration of former President Donald Trump, but it must now be approved by the Biden administration, which DeSantis is increasingly attacking as he positions himself to likely run for president in 2024.
“Today’s filing records the Biden Administration in support of the FDA rule, which was based largely on the concept paper on Florida’s 2019 import,” the DeSantis administration said in a statement Friday night.
Supporters of the Canadian import plan say it would disrupt drug markets and lower prices. But the plan strongly opposes the pharmaceutical industry, which has sued federal health authorities, arguing that the plan poses “significant safety risks” and “would produce little to no savings for U.S. consumers.”
The drug lobby in January also aimed to block particularly Florida’s plan, claiming it would “endanger patient safety”.
The idea of importing drugs from Canada has been touted for years by Trump as a way to get cheaper drugs. Political experts – including Trump’s secretary of health and human services – have warned that it will produce few savings for consumers and open up security questions about imported products. Several progressive Democrats including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Has also supported drug imports over the years, but bills have not gained momentum and the previous efforts of states have stopped without federal support.
Trump in July 2019 unveiled a proposal that would leave it to states to develop plans for importing drugs that would require a purchase from pharmaceutical companies and from the Canadian government, which both oppose such measures. DeSantis, a Trump ally, was the first state governor to present a plan to the federal government, claiming the proposal could save more than $ 150 million a year.
But critics argue that oversight and safety measures to track imported drugs will save and could leave consumers at almost the same costs. States would also need to put in place regulatory frameworks that could take years to implement.
“If you put Canadian drugs on a dog sled and pointed it toward Florida, the dogs would get a lot ahead of some drugs with this regulatory proposal,” Chris Meekins, a former Trump HHS official now at Raymond James, previously wrote in a note to investors.
During the 2019 legislative session, when the state GOP-governed Legislative Council considered a Canadian drug import bill, the pharmaceutical industry heavily lobbied against the plan and launched television commercials in opposition in flower media. The battle over Canadian imports was a dominant issue during that year’s legislative session.
On Friday, DeSantis held a press conference pressuring the Biden administration to approve Florida’s plan to import Canadian drugs.
“I look at Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with my daughter, and I see, oh, Governor DeSantis and his aides want to bring in these dangerous drugs from Djibouti or at any time. It was nonsense,” DeSantis said.