NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
The state of Illinois is set to announce a program to help its citizens buy drugs at a cheaper price from pharmacies in Canada and Europe, according to published reports, a move that would put it at odds with the Food and Drug Administration.
The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and USA Today report that the program is to be announced Tuesday by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat. Blagojevich will argue the new program will allow 2.8 million people in Illinois who are without prescription drug coverage to save about $812 million a year through the program, according to the Tribune.
"The federal government has failed to act," Blagojevich said in a written statement. "So it's time that we do."
But FDA Associate Commissioner William Hubbard told the newspapers that actions by Illinois and some other local governments to assist consumers with purchases from Canada and elsewhere are illegal and unsafe.
U.S. drug manufacturers are fighting the reimportation of lower-priced drugs from Canada and Europe back to the U.S. market, trying to cut off the foreign pharmacies that are selling to U.S. customers.
With the move by Illinois, the issue of access to lower-priced drugs from foreign pharmacies is likely to become an issue in this year's presidential election.