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The Latest: Colorado prescription drugs bill advances

February 1, 2019

DENVER (AP) — The Latest on a Colorado bill on prescription drug imports (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

A Colorado Senate committee has advanced a bill to create a proposal for importing certain prescription drugs from Canada to help state consumers.

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved the Democrat-sponsored bill by a 4-to-1 vote Thursday. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Advocates say Canadian consumers pay substantially less than U.S. citizens for prescription drug medications.

Vermont has asked the U.S. government for permission to implement its own Canadian drug import program. The federal government has yet to authorize it or any other state-based import scheme.

Republican Sen. Jim Smallwood cast the lone “no” vote, saying in part that Colorado should await the outcome of Vermont’s application.

Colorado’s Democratic governor, Jared Polis, has made a prescription drug import program a key part of his efforts to contain health care costs.

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12:40 p.m.

Colorado lawmakers are considering creating a program to reduce the prices of certain prescription drugs by importing them from Canada.

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee takes up a Democrat-sponsored bill on the subject Thursday.

The bill directs the state department to design a program to import prescription drugs from licensed Canadian suppliers for distribution to Colorado pharmacies and other providers.

Advocates say Canadian prescription drugs are, on average, roughly 30 percent cheaper than in the U.S.

The idea, adopted last year by Vermont, is a central plank of first-term Gov. Jared Polis’ campaign to contain health care costs.

But U.S. law requires federal approval of any state import plan, and no approvals ever have been granted.

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