White House asks court to dismiss lawsuit over drug imports

FILE - In this Saturday, May 8, 2021, file photo, Gov. Ron DeSantis, of Florida, watches the foursome matches during the Walker Cup golf tournament, in Juno Beach, Fla. DeSantis is pushing the Biden administration to approve a program he says would save tens of millions of dollars by importing drugs from Canada. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
FILE - In this Saturday, May 8, 2021, file photo, Gov. Ron DeSantis, of Florida, watches the foursome matches during the Walker Cup golf tournament, in Juno Beach, Fla. DeSantis is pushing the Biden administration to approve a program he says would save tens of millions of dollars by importing drugs from Canada. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Biden administration is urging a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit that could stand in the way of Florida and other states importing prescription drugs from Canada.

In a legal brief filed Friday, the White House argues that the lawsuit filed last year on behalf of U.S. pharmaceutical companies was premature because the federal government has yet to approve any importation programs.

The administration’s legal filing came on the same day Florida's Republican governor, who is considering a run for the White House in 2024, called on the Biden administration to approve its drug importation application.

Florida and New Mexico are the only two states thus far to formally ask the U.S. government to allow federally approved drugs to be imported from Canada, arguing that doing so would save Americans millions of dollars. Other states are poised to follow, despite a lawsuit raising concerns over safety and costs that was filed by the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, the trade group that represents U.S. drug producers.

In its legal filing, President Joe Biden's administration argues that drug companies “pre-emptively launched this wholesale attack” on a program that has yet to be implemented.

“Although two proposals have been submitted to FDA, no timeline exists for the agency to make a decision,” the government’s motion states.

During a Friday news conference, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Floridians could save as much as $150 million in drug costs in the program's first year.

DeSantis signed a bill in 2019 allowing prescription drugs to be imported from the neighboring country, but the plan awaits federal approval.