MN governor's office supports Canadian drug importation plan

ST. PAUL, MN: The Minnesota governor's office is turning to the Internet to promote a new program that will connect residents and state employees with resources for importing drugs from Canada.

ST. PAUL, MN: The Minnesota governor's office is turning to the Internet to promote a new program that will connect residents and state employees with resources for importing drugs from Canada.

The office of Gov. Tim Pawlenty yesterday launched a website that links employees to a licensed Canadian pharmacy. The state health insurance plan, Advantage Health, will waive the co-pay for drugs ordered through it.

The move reopens what has been a heated debate over foreign drug importation.

Budd Johnson, benefit manager for Advantage Health, said that the state has not yet received a formal response from the federal government, which has taken the position that drug importation is unsafe and possibly illegal.

Proponents, in turn, believe the practice will help control the rising cost of prescription medications.

"If there is a message, it's 'their prices are too high,'" said Johnson. "What we're trying to do is focus on the citizens of Minnesota."

Johnson said that the response from state employees has been "pretty positive."

Although the program has the governor's endorsement, it is being administered entirely by Advantage Health, Johnson noted.

"It's not a subsidy," he said. "It's a sharing of savings."

The website represents the second phase of a program that began in January with the launch of a similar website for residents.

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