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Maine has become the first state to allow prescription drugs to be purchased abroad, CBS News reports.

In September 2012 Maine’s attorney general halted a partnership between Portland, Maine and a Canadian prescription provider, CanaRx, which sold medications from Canadian pharmacies at a lower cost than U.S. pharmacies. The program was shut down because of pressure from drug companies, according to the article.

Local legislators passed a law reinstating the program this month to help deal with the rising cost of health care. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said the law “allows us to re-institute a program that has been very successful in the city…Cities across the country are looking at ways to reduce health care costs. One of the most significant cost drivers within health care is the cost of pharmaceutical or prescription drugs.” Brennan noted ordering drugs from Canada saved Portland employees more than $3 million from 2004 to 2012.

Pharmaceutical companies are suing Maine over the new law, arguing it “puts Maine residents at risk of serious harm.” Critics of the law point out that drugs imported from Canada may have been produced in another country with few safety regulations. They say buyers could be purchasing drugs that are counterfeit or dangerous.


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