Sen. London Lamar files bill to import safe, low-cost medicine from Canada

Prescription drug import program would save tax dollars, serve vulnerable Tennesseans

Tennessee Senate Democrats
2 min readJan 24, 2024

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NASHVILLE — Tennessee Sen. London Lamar, D-Memphis, has filed legislation to save taxpayer dollars by establishing a Canadian drug importation program in Tennessee.

“I want every Tennessean to have access to safe and affordable prescription drugs,” said Sen. Lamar, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “With this legislation, we can reduce costs to taxpayers and make sure that vulnerable populations in our state have access to life-saving prescription drugs.”

A recent study by the RAND Corporation found that prescription drug prices in the United States were 218 percent higher than prices in Canada. By that metric, importing comparable medications through Canada could reduce the purchase price for the state by half.

Under Lamar’s proposal, state officials would be required to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to import low-cost drugs from Canada while also maintaining rigorous safety standards. If approved by the federal government, state officials would then be tasked with implementing the program within six months.

Imported medications could potentially be utilized by a variety of state agencies, including the Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, the Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services, the Department of Children’s Services, the Department of Health, the Department of Corrections, and the Bureau of TennCare.

Earlier this month, the FDA approved Florida’s prescription drug importation program — the first in the nation. A cost analysis from Florida’s application estimated the program could result in $183 million of savings per year.

Florida officials say the imported medication will be subjected to laboratory testing and must comply with all current federal regulations.

CNN reported that seven other states, including Colorado, Maine and Texas, have also passed laws that would allow them to create state drug importation programs.

The House companion bill is sponsored by Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis.

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Tennessee Senate Democrats

Fighting for everyday people in the Tennessee General Assembly