The state has been working since 2019 to lower the costs of prescription drugs. On Monday, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing said a change in federal law last year opened the door to allow Colorado to move forward with its plan to import drugs from Canada.
On a nearly daily basis, Dr. Ky Davis sees his patients make a difficult choice between taking necessary medication or giving up on it because it’s too expensive.
“We have patients that see the price and decide they don’t want it, or we have patients who tell us they only take it every other day,” said Davis, who runs Harris Pharmacy in Rocky Ford. “We know that when the can get it affordably they’re more likely to take it and the medication can only help if they take it.”
He and many other independent pharmacies are interested as the state is nearing a plan to buy prescriptions from Canada to lower the costs. Davis is the President of RXPlus Pharmacies, a group of independent pharmacies that has been working with the state’s Canadian Drug Importation Program to make sure new policies don’t hurt small businesses.
“I applaud their ability to try and make this safer because I have patients who are doing Canadian importation through Canadian websites that aren’t necessarily what they say they are,” Davis said.
A request for a wholesaler has been issued. State studies show some drugs can be 90% cheaper.
“Our goal as pharmacists is to always make sure the patient can get the drug most economically as possible,” Davis said.
Independent shops like Harris’, the only pharmacy serving more than 4,000 residents in Rocky Ford, say the issue is much larger, but the state is at least looking at solutions that could help patients. Several hurdles remain before the program can start helping people.
“I’d like to see us pursue some ways of trying to limit drug prices without having to go through this obviously inefficient thing of, ship the drugs from America to Canada, and then ship them back in and somehow they’re cheaper. That part is obviously inefficient, and I think we can do it better,” Davis said.
The state thinks the cheaper drugs could be available to a quarter of all residents. The hope is to have the program up and running, bringing in cheaper drugs from another country, by July 2022.