Saving People Money on Healthcare: Polis-Primavera Administration Submits Canadian Drug Importation Plan to the FDA

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Governor Jared Polis
Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing logo Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera


December 5, 2022

Katie Jones | (Governor’s office)
Marc Williams | (HCPF)

Plan identifies 112 drugs that could save Coloradans up to $88 million annually

DENVER - Today, the Polis-Primavera administration and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (Department) submitted Colorado’s proposal to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to import prescription drugs from Canada. The submission is the first step in requesting federal approval to operate Colorado’s Canadian Drug Importation Program, which aims to save Colorado consumers and employers an average of 65% on imported medications. The Department’s recent analysis shows that importation could result in $53 to $88 million in savings annually, depending on market adoption.

“This exciting step means we are closer to savings for Coloradans as we continue to take bold action to make prescription drugs and health care more affordable. We promised on day one to save people money on health care, and we are getting it done,” said Gov. Polis. “Colorado’s Drug Importation Program is a major piece in our work to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and this final step gets us even closer to making lower health costs a reality for Coloradans. Now all we need is FDA approval and Coloradans will start saving money!”

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. 

In August, the administration announced the selection of the three primary partners for the Program, which sets up the supply chain for eligible prescription drugs to securely move through on their journey to Colorado. Including and beyond those three primary partners the program consists of a unique team of wholesalers, a qualified laboratory, a relabeler, and a reporting partner that meet all federal requirements and will ensure that high quality prescription medications from Canada arrive safely at Colorado pharmacies.

“By pursuing this plan to make lower-cost prescription drugs available in our state, we  are taking action to make sure that no Coloradan has to choose between their health and their finances,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, Director of the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care. “This is an important step in our ongoing work to save people money on healthcare and ensure that all Coloradans have access to affordable and equitable care.”

As a national leader in addressing the high cost of prescription drugs, the Department released a report outlining solutions to the prescription drug affordability challenges facing Coloradans and their employers. Colorado is advancing Canadian importation as one of these solutions. 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.

“Our Importation Program, once approved by the FDA, will bring meaningful savings to Colorado consumers and employers,” said Kim Bimestefer, executive director of the Department. “Dozens of commonly used, life-saving drugs can be imported through Canada for pennies on the dollar. As examples, Jardiance, a drug used to treat Type II diabetes or Flovent, an inhaler, are about 80% less expensive through our importation program.” 

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 seeking to implement state-led importation programs. 

As the Department begins this next phase of implementation, it looks forward to engaging stakeholders to ensure Colorado consumers have access to lower cost, high quality medications. For more information on the program and on upcoming stakeholder opportunities, please visit the Department website.


About the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing: The Department administers Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid program), Child Health Plan Plus, and other programs for Coloradans who qualify. For more information about the Department, please visit