Polis-Primavera Administration Announces Prescription Drug Importation Partners

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Partnerships mark a significant milestone towards implementing Colorado’s Canadian Drug Importation Program

DENVER  - Today, the Polis-Primavera administration and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (Department) announced partnerships with key supply chain partners that will help Colorado operationalize the importation of lower cost medications from Canada to save people money, while ensuring the health and safety of Coloradans. Colorado’s Canadian Importation Program, once approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is poised to save consumers and employers an average of more than 60% on prescription medications. 


“Saving people money and lowering health care costs has been a top priority of our administration since day one, and now we have a major piece in place to make drugs more affordable. Colorado’s Drug Importation Program is an important step to lowering the cost of prescription drugs and keeping more money in people's pockets,” said Gov. Polis. “I am proud to see the progress of the program and the steps forward in making lower health care costs a reality across Colorado and look forward to delivering real results and savings.” 


In 2019, solidifying his commitment to save people money on health care and to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, Governor Polis signed the landmark and bipartisan SB19-005, which authorized the Department to seek approval from the federal government to establish an importation program that will provide access to Canada’s lower priced drugs to Colorado employers and consumers. 


To ensure Coloradans have the opportunity to save money on prescription drugs, last year Governor Polis signed the bipartisan SB21-123 which authorized the Department to expand Drug Importation to other trade partner countries, if federal law is amended to allow this. 

The Department conducted an in-depth analysis of Colorado drug prices versus those in other countries, finding that expanding importation to other countries, like France or Australia, could deliver even higher savings — an average of 84% and 78%, respectively. 


“I know firsthand the burden and stress high health care costs can place on families across our state, which is why I am so excited to see this big step forward in making the cost of prescription drugs more affordable and accessible through the Colorado Canadian Drug Importation Program,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera and the Director of the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care. “The Polis-Primavera administration and The Office of Saving People Money on Health Care are committed to creating new innovative ways to ensure all Coloradans have access to high quality and affordable health care.” 


All three partners, together with the state, play a critical role in Colorado’s Drug Importation program:


  • AdiraMedica LLC, a U.S. wholesaler and their subsidiary located in Ontario, Canada will fulfill the role of Colorado’s foreign seller, which serves as the primary conduit with Canadian manufacturers. They will purchase the products for Colorado’s program and ensure they meet specifications for exportation to the United States.
  • Premier Pharmaceuticals LLC is a U.S. wholesaler located in Boise, Idaho and will serve as Colorado’s importer. They will be the primary distributor once medications come into the U.S. and will sell the medications to participating Colorado pharmacies. Additionally, Premier manages key aspects of the program, including partnering with a qualified laboratory and relabeler to ready products for the Colorado market.
  • Denver’s Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety will be responsible for all FDA required adverse event reporting as well as respond to consumer inquiries.


As a national leader in addressing the high cost of prescription drugs, the Department released a report outlining solutions to this problem facing thousands of Coloradans and their families. Colorado is advancing Canadian importation as one of these solutions to bring meaningful relief to Coloradans. Coloradans and their employers are paying much more for the same prescription drugs than their Canadian counterparts. Drug Importation from Canada will allow Colorado consumers and employers to pay a fair price for their medications.


“If you look closely at the labels on your prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, you will find many prescriptions are already manufactured in other countries,” said Kim Bimestefer, executive director of the Department. “Our Canadian Drug Importation program will not only reduce the cost of prescription drugs to the benefit of Coloradans and our employers, but will do so safely and in compliance with all federal safety guidelines.” 


The FDA indicates 78% of active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturers are located outside of the United States. All drugs imported through the program will be subject to additional testing for authenticity and degradation.


Importation of certain prescription drugs was made possible through a change in federal policy in November 2020. The federal final rule implements a provision of federal law from 2003 that allows FDA-authorized programs to import certain prescription drugs from Canada to Colorado. Colorado is one of several states implementing state-led importation programs. 


The Department is finalizing the state’s importation application for submission to the FDA this fall. For more information, please visit the Department website.