DENVER — The state of Colorado has officially submitted its plan to the federal government to begin importing prescription drugs from Canada.
The Section 804 Import Program (SIP) application has listed 112 drugs that the state hopes to start moving across the border to save people money.
“The big picture is that we have Coloradans who can’t afford to take their medications as prescribed because it’s too expensive,” said Kim Bimestefer, executive director of the Department of Health Policy and Funding. state health care.
The department estimates the program will save Coloradans between $53 million and $88 million on their prescriptions each year.
On average, prescription drugs make up about 19% of total health care spending in the state, according to the department.
“If we can import through the pathways that we are currently putting in place, medicines that save an average of 65%, it will make a significant difference for Coloradans,” Bimestefer said.
Among the 112 prescription drugs the state wants to import are:
- EpiPen, which the state expects to see a 66% savings on
- Xarelto, a blood-thinning drug, which could lead to a saving of 77% through importation, according to the State
- Advair Diskus, a respiratory inhaler, which the state expects to see a 66% saving on
- Invokana, a type 2 diabetes drug, which the state expects to see an 81% savings on
- Nuvaring, a contraceptive drug, which the state expects to see a 90% savings on
The lowest-cost drug on the per-prescription list is Cabenuva, an HIV drug that currently costs patients $6,240. The department estimates that an imported version of the drug would cost patients $3,074.
To determine which drugs to include, Bimestefer’s team combed through claims data for Colorado’s 2,000 most expensive drugs and narrowed it down from there.
“We looked at the most expensive drugs as well as the high volume drugs. So a drug like Synthroid, for example, which is for hyperthyroidism. This drug is not particularly expensive, but it is widely used,” said Lauren Reveley, drug importation program manager for the department. “We really tried to focus on drugs that treat chronic conditions like HIV, asthma, COPD.”
Although 112 drugs are currently on the list, the app warns that the list is currently ambitious and not all drugs could be imported initially. Reveley said it was because of the way drugmakers contracted with wholesalers in Canada.
“We are going to have to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers to secure supply agreements and price agreements on each drug on the list. So we intend to start those negotiations in earnest in the new year,” Reveley said.
Eventually, however, she hopes to go way beyond the 112-drug list.
Before drugs are imported, they should go through FDA-approved manufacturers, be tested for authenticity and quality, and then relabelled.
The FDA now has six months to review the state’s request and determine if it can proceed.
Bimestefer said the state has already submitted a draft application to the FDA in hopes of easing the process and speeding things up. They hope for a quick review.
Colorado became the second state in the nation to submit an SIP request behind Florida, but Florida has been waiting for a response from the FDA for more than 600 days.
In August, Governor Ron DeSantis and the state filed a lawsuit against the FDA over the delay. A decision on this lawsuit could affect how fast or slow Colorado’s enforcement is.
“We hope for a quick review, and hope they collaborate throughout so we can respond and get the savings to Coloradans as quickly as possible,” Bimestefer said.
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