Reimportation of Prescription Drugs From Canada Could Cost Sacramento County Free, Discounted Medications
Sacramento County would save an estimated $283,000 per year through the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada but could lose $14 million in free and discounted medications provided each year by pharmaceutical companies, according to a report compiled by Jim Hunt, head of the county Department of Health and Human Services, the Sacramento Bee reports (Jahn, Sacramento Bee, 5/13). Two Sacramento County supervisors in March requested a review of the ability of Canadian pharmacies to provide medications; the legality of reimportation; proposals that would allow county to ensure the safety of reimported medications; the effect of a potential loss of free and discounted medications from pharmaceutical companies because of reimportation; and overall estimated savings (California Healthline, 3/18). The report, which Hunt will deliver to the county Board of Supervisors on Thursday, found that the county saves an estimated 60% on the cost of prescription drugs through free and discounted medications provided by pharmaceutical companies and that reimportation would save the county an estimated 40%, according to the report.
The report indicates that reimportation of prescription drugs "could jeopardize our pharmacy license," Hunt said, adding, "If we lose our pharmacy license, then we'd be at the mercy of the retail market, giving people prescriptions and telling them 'Go down to the corner pharmacy at our expense.'" Hunt also raised concerns about "how complicated it would be to change suppliers in an operation as large as the county pharmacy," which fills about 1,500 prescriptions per day, the Bee reports. According to the Bee, the report recommended that the county "take a wait-and-see approach" and reimport medications from Canada "only if the practice is legalized, if the drugs are safe and consistently available and if doing so would not eliminate the county's free drugs and steep discounts" from pharmaceutical companies (Sacramento Bee, 5/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.