Florida’s plan to become the first state to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada has hit a setback after no private firms bid on the state’s $30 million contract to set up and operate the drug importation program, the Miami Herald reported. The bids were due by the end of September.
The plan, designed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and endorsed by President Donald Trump, was designed to lower Florida’s drug costs. The FDA and HHS in September said they would allow importation of drugs from Canada. Florida has said it wants to be the first state to do so, according to the Miami Herald.
Prescription drug prices are cheaper in Canada because the country limits how much drugmakers can charge for their drugs, while the U.S. lets drugmakers and distributors set their own prices.
A spokesperson for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration told the Miami Herald the state is exploring its options.
“The agency remains confident it will find a qualified vendor soon,” the spokesperson said. Florida had planned to award a contract to a private vendor in December.
Jane Horvath, a health consultant in College Park, Md., told the Miami Herald that private firms are likely hesitant to bid on the plan because federal rules weren’t set until September, and the firms wouldn’t want to bid on a plan that may change if Florida rules conflicted with federal rules.
There are inconsistencies between Florida’s plan and HHS rules. Florida’s plan would give bonus-scoring points to contractors that repackage and relabel drugs in Florida, which isn’t allowed under federal rules, the Miami Herald reported.
The private firm also would have to determine which prescription drugs will generate the most savings for Florida’s Medicaid program, which is hard to determine because Medicaid rebates are confidential, according to the Miami Herald.
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