Burlington officials say imported drugs will save the city money.

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) – The Food and Drug Administration says a city option to buy low-cost Canadian prescription drugs for city employees would be illegal under federal law.

“The drugs would not be legal under any interpretation of U.S. law,” FDA Associate Commissioner William Hubbard said. “They would unequivocally be in violation of U.S. law.”

Mail-order importation of Canadian prescription drugs would violate both a 1938 law prohibiting the sale of drugs unapproved by the FDA and a 1988 law barring the reimportation from another country of American manufactured drugs, Hubbard said. He said the 1988 law was directed at preventing the import of counterfeited drugs.

The Burlington City Council last week gave Mayor Peter Clavelle permission to investigate the feasibility of a Canadian connection for employees.

The Canadian option could save the city a bundle in annual health-care costs, Clavelle said. He said legal obstacles to the plan don’t appear to be “show stoppers.”

Joseph McNeil, Burlington city attorney, said the city has just begun its investigation into “the whole universe of considerations” involving Canadian drugs.

“We’re just getting under way,” he said. “We don’t intend to go off half educated.”


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