CSHP's statement on FDA’s Approval of Canadian Drug Importation

January 16, 2024
On January 5, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Florida’s plan to import prescription drugs from Canada in an effort to reduce the drug costs to the American consumer. The Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP) remains opposed to any exportation of medicines from Canada and will ramp up our advocacy to the U.S. Federal and state governments, as well as the FDA, to address the underlying drivers of drug shortages and pricing in the U.S.

“Canada cannot stock America’s medicine cabinet,” says CSHP President Ashley Walus. “Our drug supply is not the answer to the problem of high drug prices in the United States.”

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) also acknowledges that drug importation from Canada is not a real solution because it is not a meaningful response to drug pricing and has the potential to disrupt the pharmacist-patient relationship. 

While the details of Florida’s plan are still to be released, Canada took precautionary steps in August 2021 in response to various states exploring legislation to import prescription drugs. Health Canada bolstered the existing limitations in our healthcare legislation to stipulate that pharmaceuticals intended for the domestic market cannot be distributed outside of Canada if it will cause or exacerbate a shortage of a drug.

“The intention of some U.S. states to tap into Canada’s supply isn’t new,” says CSHP CEO Jody Ciufo. “In 2019, CSHP joined the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies Canada (ASOP Canada) along with 12 other organizations to advocate against the export of Canadian drugs. We appeared before various state legislatures, met with U.S. federalrepresentatives, and featured prominently in media stories about the issue – and will do this again to actively protect our drug supply.”

CSHP is engaged with Health Canada and applauds their notification to regulated parties of their legal obligations not to distribute drugs for consumption outside of Canada if the distribution will cause or worsen a shortage of the drug. Just as important is their plan to enforce existing regulations: “The Department will not hesitate to take immediate action to address non-compliance, ranging from requesting a plan for corrective measures, issuing a public advisory or other forms of communication, to taking action on the licenses of regulated parties who contravene the export prohibition if warranted.”

Along with these safeguards, CSHP believes in the importance of these collective efforts to address the complexities associated with drug importation and its potential impact on patient care. “We are aligned with our peers including CPhA, are a member of ASOP Canada, and we will continue to safeguard the supply chain intended for Canadian patients,” says CSHP President Ashley Walus.

For more information please contact: Dr. Rita Dhami, Chief Pharmacy Officer at rdhami@cshp.ca.