Governor Brian Schweitzer (D) of Montana is seeking permission to set up purchasing agreements with Canadian drug suppliers for the state’s Medicaid program. His goal is to set up an agreement with a wholesaler to furnish the discounted prescriptions to local pharmacies where the state would complete the purchase.
Schweitzer estimates that the move could save as much as 40 percent of the $100 million that the state spends each year on prescription drugs for its Medicaid programs. The program covers children, state employees and prison inmates. Schweitzer notes that most of the drugs would still be purchased at a local pharmacy with the exception of those intended for use at the prison. The latter would likely be purchased directly from the wholesaler.
The idea of purchasing drugs in another country has been debated before but rejected because of concerns about the safety and regulatory issues involved. Schweitzer argues that the drugs in Canada are the same as those that are available in the U.S. and there are no safety concerns with importing them. He is hoping to get permission from the Health and Human Services Secretary for the program within the year.