Vermont first state to legalize drug importation from Canada

Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill May 16 to permit the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, reports Politico.

The move solidifies Vermont as the first state to legalize such an action to combat high drug costs.

While the bill garnered large support from Vermont's Democratic-controlled legislature, the state faces a few more obstacles before its wholesale importation program can take effect. Vermont still needs to design a funding mechanism for the program and submit a certification request to HHS by July 2019.

Gaining HHS' certification may prove difficult, as many of President Donald Trump's top health appointees believe drug importation is not a realistic — or safe — solution to high drug costs.

"The United States has the safest regulatory system in the world. The last thing we need is open borders for unsafe drugs in search of savings that cannot be safely achieved," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a May 14 speech. "You can't improve competition and choice in our drug markets with gimmicks like these — you have to boost competition and price transparency."

Several other states have introduced drug importation legislation, but most of the bills have stalled in 2018.

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