In a bid to prevent shortages on this side of the border, the federal government is stepping in to limit exports of prescription drugs after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week gave the green light for bulk imports of cheaper Canadian medications to states such as Florida.Health Canada on Monday sent out a bulletin to pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors reminding them of restrictions of potential sales to the US and threatening penalties for non-compliance.“The Government of Canada is taking all necessary action to safeguard the drug supply and ensure Canadians have access to the prescription drugs they need and has been clear in its position: bulk importation will not provide an effective solution to the problem of high drug prices in the US.”On Friday, the FDA said Florida could "import certain prescription drugs from Canada if (it) will significantly reduce the cost to the American consumer without imposing additional risk to public health and safety."It comes after US President Joe Biden in July 2021 signed an executive order directing the FDA to work with states and Indian tribes to reduce costs to American consumers while supporting public health and safety. Said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf: “These proposals must demonstrate the programs would result in significant cost savings to consumers without adding risk of exposure to unsafe or ineffective drugs.”.“It’s about time that the FDA put patients over politics and the interests of Floridians over Big Pharma,"Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.According to a report by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the US spends on average more than double the average of other developed nations for prescription drugs at about USD$1,432 per person in 2021. Canada was fourth highest, at $814.Some medicines used to treat HIV/AIDS, diabetes and Hepatitis C can cost as much as $400 per pill in Florida. The policy change is expected to save state taxpayers as much as US$150 million per year.The irony is that about 68% of all the drugs sold in Canada are already imported from third countries. Though prescription drug prices are cheaper on this side of the border, they aren’t necessarily the cheapest in the world, by any stretch.Individual Americans are able to fill prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies but the new policy affects mass imports. The move was hailed by US politicians as a victory for patients.“It’s about time that the FDA put patients over politics and the interests of Floridians over Big Pharma," said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is also running for the Republican presidential nomination.But American pharmaceutical groups called it “reckless.”“Ensuring patients have access to needed medicines is critical, but the importation of unapproved medicines, whether from Canada or elsewhere in the world, poses a serious danger to public health. Politicians need to stop getting between Americans and their health care,” Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) president Stephen J. Ubl said in a statement..“Canada simply can’t supply drugs to Florida, or any other US states, without significantly increasing the risk and severity of drug shortages nationwide.“Innovative Medicines Canada.In 2020, the Canadian government banned the export of certain medications to prevent shortages after the former Trump administration proposed rule changes to make it easier to secure cheaper drugs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.On Friday, Innovative Medicines Canada issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over the FDA decision and calling on the federal government to take steps to prevent shortages here.“Canada simply can’t supply drugs to Florida, or any other US states, without significantly increasing the risk and severity of drug shortages nationwide. The US market is nearly 10 times bigger than Canada’s, and allowing drugs that were intended for Canadians to be exported to the U.S. would harm Canadian patients and disrupt our health-care system,” said interim president David Renwick."Canada has strong regulations in place to protect supply," Health Minister Mark Holland said in a statement. "Canadians can be confident that our government will continue to take all necessary measures to protect the drug supply in Canada."