Orange County Supervisor Announces Plans To Seek Approval for Prescription Drug Reimportation Program
Orange County Supervisor Chuck Smith on Friday announced that he plans to ask the county Board of Supervisors to approve a pilot program to allow county employees to reimport lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, the Los Angeles Times reports. Smith made the announcement after he visited SPC Global Technologies, a Texas-based company that facilitates the purchase of prescription drugs from abroad (Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times, 9/25).
A county Health Care Agency executive last month traveled to Canada to study pharmacies that export drugs to U.S. consumers. County officials have said that a reimportation program could decrease county costs by $2 million annually, as well as reduce out-of-pocket prescription drug costs (California Healthline, 9/13).
According to Smith, officials for SPC Global last week told him that a reimportation program administered through the company, which serves as an intermediary for foreign pharmacies and U.S. customers, could "dramatically cut costs," the Times reports. SPC Global -- which has processed payments for more than 52,000 prescriptions from Canada for more than 400,000 customers -- tracks the safety and prices of prescription drugs from Canada, Chile, Israel, Australia and England; processes payments; and informs foreign pharmacists about the health insurance of customers.
Smith aide James Campbell said of the visit to SPC Global, "We came here to learn about importing Canadian drugs safely. We learned about more than that. We learned about prescription pricing and management and total patient care," adding, "Now, we have our work cut out."
FDA, which has raised safety concerns about reimportation, earlier this year sent SPC Global officials two warning letters that accused the company of violations of the federal ban on the practice. SPC Global co-founder Tom Curb denied the allegations.
In addition, Smith questioned the safety concerns raised by FDA. He said, "There are millions of people that are using Canadian pharmacies, and there's no indication of any problems. How can they say they're not safe when they allow one million people to buy their drugs from Canada?" (Los Angeles Times, 9/25).