RI First to License Canadian Pharmacies

January 11, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Rhode Island has become the first state to allow Canadian pharmacies to apply for a license in the state, according to Assistant Director of Health Robert Marshall.

By adopting rules late last year that will go into effect later this month, Rhode Island will become the first state to treat Canadian pharmacies the same as out-of-state ones. The rules were adopted as a result of legislation approved last summer by the state Legislature, according to the Providence Business News. The new law required the Department of Health to allow the licensure of pharmacies based in Canada so that they could dispense drugs within the state.

The restrictions on pharmacies are the same for Canadian-based ones as for other out-of-state drug dispensers. Some questions had been raised about the safety of imported Canadian drugs, but the Health Department decided that standards used to judge other pharmacies would be sufficient to protect state residents, according to the Business News.

Some opposition to the move does exist, however, with both the Rhode Island Attorney General and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressing concern, according to the Business News. However, no challenges have been filed against the new regulations.

Other states, mostly in the northern part of the country, have allowed prescription drug importation from external sources, usually Canada. Illinois was the fifth state to allow residents access to imported drugs — the others are Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and North Dakota — but it was be the first state to include countries in Europe (See Illinois Becomes Fifth State to Import Prescription Drugs from Abroad ).