Vt. drug importation program will need federal approval

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) Vermont's first-in-the-nation program to allow the wholesale importation of low-cost prescription drugs from Canada will need federal approval from skeptical Trump administration officials.

The bill signed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday is an attempt to address rising prescription drug prices.

Vermont will need certification from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services before the program can begin. HHS Secretary Alex Azar has repeatedly referred to Canadian drug importation as a "gimmick."

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said Vermont cannot guarantee the safety of imported drugs, but Scott said the program would have sufficient safeguards.

Vermont will need to submit a certification request to the federal government by July 2019. The state will also need to set up a funding mechanism for the program.

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