Little Rhodie Looks For Big Savings From Canada

January 14, 2004 ( - Staring down the barrel of a $37 million deficit, Rhode Island's secretary of state is urging the state to consider purchasing prescription drugs from Canada.

Secretary of State Matt Brown said such a plan, by which the state can reimport prescription medication from Canada at discounted prices, could save the state millions of dollars in health-care costs associated with state employees and retirees. Additionally, Brown wants Rhode Island to set up a Web site so that all state residents can take advantage of substantially discounted drug prices, according to an Associated Press report.

“Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world,” Brown said in a news release. “This program will help Rhode Islanders get access to quality, affordable prescription drugs.”

Brown’s plan comes at a time when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reiterated warnings that the reimportation of prescription drugs is not only against federal law, but can potentially be hazardous. As evidence of this contention, the FDA points to sting operations that uncovered mishandled and mislabel medications coming in from Canada (SeeFDA Stings Springfield’s Canadian Drug Supplier).

Rhode Island is following in the footsteps of other states and cities that have either implemented a program or are seriously considering implementation. New Hampshire, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa are among a growing contingent of states that are considering a Canadian buy-back program (See Illinois Governor Says Proof Is in the Canadian Drug Plan Pudding , MN Governor Brings Canadian Drug Buying Plan to the Streets ). These states in addition to cities that include Boston and New York City though are following the example set by Springfield, Massachusetts, which already imports Canadian drugs for city employees and retirees (SeeSpringfield, Mass. Pushes Canadian Drug Order Program).