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Bill Allowing Cheaper Drug Imports From Canada Advancing Against Big Pharma Fit

| April 10, 2019

The Bridge Avenue Bridge across the St. John River between Madawaska, Maine, and Edmunston, Canada. (© FlaglerLive)

The Bridge Avenue Bridge across the St. John River between Madawaska, Maine, and Edmunston, Canada. (© FlaglerLive)

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to allow the state to import drugs from Canada is moving ahead in the Legislature, though some lawmakers say there has been a sustained effort to try to stop the plan.

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday became the latest panel to approve a proposal (SB 1528) that would authorize the state to ask the federal government to approve the importation program.

DeSantis has championed the legislation as a way to curb prescription drug costs. But his effort continues to draw opposition from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry who say importing drugs could increase the amount of unsafe and counterfeit drugs.

Mark Delegal, a lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, told senators Tuesday that they can lower prescription drug costs in other ways, including cracking down on pharmacy benefit managers that, he said, don’t pass along savings and rebates to consumers.

“People are watching you,” he said. “Counterfeiters are watching you. The public is watching you. And when you give a green light to this Canadian system, it’s going to change public conduct. They are going to go out and start saying, “Hey, this has been green-lighted.’ And all the counterfeiters will pop up and begin to make their products available.”

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee added two amendments to the bill, one of which deleted a proposed requirement that Canadian suppliers export drugs “at prices that will provide cost savings to the state.”

Chairman Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican and sponsor of the bill, said the federal government wouldn’t approve the program if there weren’t cost savings and that the language was redundant and unnecessary.

But Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, pressed Bean about eliminating the requirement, noting that savings are her top priority. Passidomo said she wants to make sure that the program ‘bears fruit” and that it doesn’t just create an opportunity for the “middleman.”

DeSantis has made the creation of a drug-importation program a top health care priority since taking office in January. DeSantis on Monday made a trip to Sun City Center, a well- known retirement community outside Tampa to rally support for the proposal.

DeSantis was joined by Bean, House sponsor Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, and Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, who would be charged with carrying out the program.

The House is poised Wednesday to debate its version of the bill (HB 19) on the House floor. The House version would establish two drug-importation programs. One would apply to state government programs and would be run by the Agency for Health Care Administration. The other program would be known as the International Drug Importation Program and would be run by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and more geared to consumers.

The Senate version of the bill differs in that it would establish one program to allow drug importation from Canada. If the federal government signed off, the Senate bill also would require the program to come back to the Legislature for final approval before it could be implemented. The House bill would not require final legislative approval before implementation.

Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, noted that he had been heavily lobbied on the bill and called it controversial. But at the end of the day, Hooper said the costs of “prescription drugs are way too high in this country,” and not enough is being done to bring down the costs.

–Christine Sexton, News Service of Florida

8 Responses for “Bill Allowing Cheaper Drug Imports From Canada Advancing Against Big Pharma Fit”

  1. Traveling Rep says:

    Let’s hear all that nutty leftist criticism of DeSantis now…

  2. Pogo says:

    @A drug and pony show

    Talk about a phony fight put on for a show – this is a record setter. First, a refresher on Republican villains at work:

    How the Republicans Passed Medicare Part D

    “…The next time Republicans start carping about legislative mechanics in healthcare reform, let’s pointedly remind them that they had their chance to fix healthcare, and that they decided to create a new giant pork sluice, instead, deploying some of the most disgraceful tactics in Congressional history along the way.”

    The photo captioned, “The Bridge Avenue Bridge across the St. John River between Madawaska, Maine, and Edmunston, Canada.” is ironically on point. Too bad this report doesn’t include the bridge, of long standing, traveled by Republican villains traveling from Maine to Florida:

    “…Known as Mary “mayhem” by her detractors, Mayhew served as commissioner of health and human services under former Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Tarren Bragdon, who co-chaired LePage’s transition team at the time, recommended her for the Maine job.

    Bragdon left Maine in 2011 and moved to Naples, where he founded the Foundation for Government Accountability, which touts itself as a think tank but has come under fire by Jim McGann, the director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, among others, for its work.

    Bragdon’s work also was a centerpiece in Florida’s defense of a mandatory drug testing law for people receiving welfare that was challenged by a single father. Then-Attorney General Pam Bondi defended the law and included documents from Bragdon’s report in court filings. A federal judge in 2013 said there was no justification for the state to require “warrantless, suspicionless drug testing.” An appeals court sided with the judge, and the state ultimately paid $1.5 million in legal fees to the lawyers who sued the state.

    Bragdon was a member of a DeSantis transition advisory committee on health and wellness. He told The News Service of Florida on Thursday that he did not directly recommend Mayhew for the Florida post…”

    desantis and his party’s crew of flying monkeys are owned by the drug and insurance companies. Period. Republicans are to health care and health insurance what morticians are to first aid.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    First good thing done by the current Governor! Hope bill passes!

  4. David S. says:

    Good luck trying…..

  5. Pogo says:

    @And furthermore – add this:

    One, for the drug lobby, since your drugs are so dangerous if they return from Canada – where are all the dead Canadians? Two, you know damn well you’re hoping this will give cover to the GOP, while it wrecks Canada’s drug market too. If the drug companies, and distributors, were actually even a tiny bit concerned with human health in the United States – they would stop gouging us to death.

    To the Republican flying monkey lobbyists, the swindlers of Medicare and Medicaid – you have the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans for lack of health insurance, and outrageous pricing of pharmaceutical products on your grimy souls.

    We remember…4.0..0.206.7173.10j51j1……0….1..gws-wiz…..0..0i71j0i67j0i131j0j0i10j0i22i30j33i22i29i30j33i160.wnpoz_LKY2w

  6. Bernie 2020 says:

    @Traveling Rep

    Still don’t like DeSantis but this is a great step forward. I support him fully to allow for this.

  7. Sherry says:

    Step back and see the “Big” picture for a moment. So, the astronomical profit margins of Big Pharma continues to go essentially unregulated. . .due to their lobbyists (legally) bribing elected politicians in the USA.

    Those exact same Pharmaceutical companies sell their products “MUCH CHEAPER” to customers in many other countries because those other countries have some form of “Socialized” health care where their (less corrupt) governments refuse to pay the outrageous prices charged in the USA.

    So, instead of STEPPING UP and REGULATING the massive profits of Pharmaceutical companies here at home, our politicians are now creating payments/profits to “Middlemen” in Canada in order for us to get life critical medicines at a slightly reduced cost.

    How we have twisted our business supply chain into horrific knots simply to kowtow to the Pharmaceutical Industry.and our own corrupt politicians. And, guess what. . . we consumers continue to get screwed again and again.

    God forbid we should even consider a health care system that serves “the common good” instead of maximizing the profits of the likes of Pharmaceutical and Insurance companies.

    Remember. . . Mongo and FOX says “all Capitalism GOOD, any part of any other system, BAD”!

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