Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is considering Europe as a possible source of prescription drugs to save Illinois consumers money, a spokeswoman said.
Blagojevich, who has been trying to get federal approval of a pilot program that would allow Illinois to buy drugs from Canada for the state's employees and retirees, now is putting together a panel of advisers who will research whether the state should import drugs from Europe for Illinois residents and businesses, spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said.
The governor was expected to announce the initiative Tuesday in Chicago.
The move comes in response to efforts by the pharmaceutical industry to prevent consumers from buying cheaper drugs from Canada, Ottenhoff said.
Blagojevich expects opposition to his European initiative, she said.
"It's very likely that the traditional opponents will raise the same old concerns that we have heard over and over again," she said. "The fact of the matter is millions of Americans look to Canada to get their drugs, and the governor wants to ensure that they have enough options to make sure that they get safe and affordable prescription drugs."
The group Blagojevich has put together to study importing drugs from Europe includes many of the same people who worked on the Canadian drug initiative, Ottenhoff said. They include representatives of the state Department of Public Health, Department of Professional Regulation and staff from the governor's office.
The group will travel to Europe to study the regulation and distribution of prescription drugs there.
Ottenhoff said they will likely look at France, England, Ireland, Switzerland and other members of the European Union.
The governor's office expects the study to be completed within 60 days, she said.
Earlier this month, Blagojevich and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a citizen's petition with the Food and Drug Administration demanding a response within six months to their request for approval of the pilot program for Canadian drugs.
Medicine is often cheaper in Canada because of government price controls, but it is illegal to import prescription drugs into the United States.