Vermont officials hold public hearing on drug importation

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BURLINGTON, VT- In 2018, the Vermont legislature was the first in the nation to pass a law that would allow for the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.   In order for the law to be in place it needed federal approval.

It wasn’t until December of 2019 when the U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration published a proposed rule which allows states to import prescription drugs from Canada.

On Tuesday, Vermont Officials held a public hearing to get public input on a proposal to import prescription drugs from Canada. Vermont law already permits importation of prescription drugs from Canada with approval from the federal government. Up until now, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services has not granted states approval of importation.

“A notice of proposed law making was created by the federal government and there is now a draft pathway for states to peruse importation of prescription drugs,” said Director of Health care reform Ena Backus.

Richard Jeroloman attended the hearing because of his own experience living in Canada during a time in his life.

“For many years afterwards I drove across the border to get my cholesterol lowering drugs. So, I would make a trip every three months to Canada and I saved about half the cost,” said Jeroloman.

Vermont’s proposal would allow people to get those types of drugs in the U.S

“It would be wholesaler to wholesaler. So, there would be a wholesaler in Canada that would be working with a wholesailor here in Vermont that would make these available,” said Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith.

Officials wanted public input to help draft a plan.

“From these comments and from the rules, the final rules that are drafted we will submit a plan to the federal government,” Said Smith.

According to Vermont Administrators, the proposal would save around $15 million. However, the proposal would not cover all prescription drugs.

“I hope they’ll also consider the most important drugs for senior citizens which are the narcotics that are not being covered,” said Jeroloman.

Public comments are due to the Federal Administration by March 9th. Officials say they are hoping to submit a plan for the state by July.

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