By Andrew Powell
(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill on Wednesday that will allow the purchase of prescription drugs outside of the U.S.
DeSantis held a news conference in Jupiter to sign the “Prescription Drug Reform Act” into law, a measure that advocates say will lower prescription drug costs for customers in Florida.
Senate Bill 1550 was sponsored by Sen. Jason Brodeur, R-Lake Mary, and will prohibit specific acts related to the Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act.
DeSantis stated that the bill will help put some transparency into the health care system, adding that there is a lot of existing red tape and bureaucracy that is driving up prices.
Florida is one of the first states in the U.S. to utilize a 2003 federal law that allows states to purchase prescription drugs from Canada or further abroad at a lower cost.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration approved this measure, but since then, the Biden administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have held it up due to safety concerns according to DeSantis.
DeSantis said that the real concern for the Biden administration and the FDA is protecting Big Pharma from losing its profits to another market.
“Obviously, if we have to buy it here, it’s way more expensive, it’s the same drug, just going across the border. So we’re trying to access foreign markets to do that,” DeSantis said.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers
DeSantis noted that Pharmacy Benefit Managers — the middlemen that work as the go-between for customers and pharmacists — are making huge profits, which is driving up prices. According to DeSantis, currently, there are three PBMs that control 80 percent of the entire drug market.
Neighborhood pharmacies are struggling to stay in business, according to DeSantis due to the practices of these middlemen. The bill also undoes “steering”, a practice that forces the purchase of mail-order pharmacy drugs through a pharmacy that is controlled by PBMs.
The prices of prescription drugs will also be tracked and DeSantis noted that in 2022, drugmakers increased the prices of more than 1,400 prescription drugs. Because of this, any significant increase in price that reaches a certain threshold must have the rationale behind it explained beforehand.
“A lot of what these price increases are is taking advantage of the convoluted system in order to be able to raise prices, and make more money,” DeSantis noted, going on to question the ethics behind drug makers being solely money-driven at the expense of people who need these medications.
DeSantis also pointed out that the Legislature was met with heavy lobbying from pharmaceutical companies, who wanted to stop this bill before it made its way through the lawmaking process.
DeSantis then went into detail on other upcoming laws, including one that will permanently protect Floridians from COVID-19 mandates and includes additional protections for physicians.
“I want to be a haven for physicians that are willing to put the evidence ahead of whatever some medical society said, and just having dealt with COVID, I can tell you, a lot of this is very very political,” DeSantis said.
Andrew Powell is a contributor to The Center Square. This article was published by The Center Square on May 3. Reprinted with permission.