TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Many companies stand to lose from Floridians' access to more affordable Canadian prescription drugs, and fearmongering is the latest weapon being used against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' efforts to make it happen.
DeSantis wants to create a prescription pharmaceuticals importation program, but for his plan to happen the Florida House and Senate and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must give it the green light. The anti-importation campaign highlights the dangers of imported pharmaceuticals.
"Some senators are pushing a dangerous new program that would allow prescription drugs from China," an advertisement that is being circulated on social media and television says.
The statewide ad from Partnership for Safe Medicines also uses a statement from an FDA commissioner warning that imported pharmaceutical drugs come from unreliable parties and counterfeiters. The program would not import pharmaceutical drugs from China. The partnership would be with Canada, which has high standards and better prices.
"The Wall Street Journal says drug imports would be impractical, unsafe and unlikely to reduce prices," the advertising says.
That statement is referring to WSJ Editorial Board's Monday Op-Ed piece and not the business journal's objective reporting. The columnists warn that "keeping the drug supply free from contaminated or counterfeit products is not easy, and the World Health Organization has warned that 1 in 10 medical products in the developing world are phony.
"It isn’t clear who is liable if counterfeits are found in Florida, but you can bet it won’t be the politicians," the columnists wrote referring to Florida Republicans.
According to Florida legislative staff analysis, U.S. consumers pay some of the highest prices in the world, as much as 30% to 190% more than other countries.
"The United States pays more for prescription drugs than anywhere else in the world," DeSantis said in a statement. "In Florida, we can change that by employing safe, common sense solutions such as importing FDA approved prescription drugs from Canada."
The average Canadian spends $756 dollars a year for prescription drugs while Americans spend $1,162. DeSantis says his will save the state millions on pharmaceutical drugs needed in prisons, state mental hospitals and by Medicaid patients.
"Too many have already died from counterfeit drugs. Are you willing to take that risk? Tell your state senator to vote no on SB 1528," the advertising says.
A Senate committee approved the bill 15-28 on Thursday, and the Florida House approved it earlier this month. The legislation includes a program that would benefit the state's Department of Corrections and Medicaid recipients and another that would benefit consumers at pharmacies.
Florida follows Vermont, the first state to enact a prescription drug importation law. Under a cooperation agreement, the FDA is engaged in regulatory cooperation activities with its Canadian counterpart, Health Canada.
DeSantis is ready to sign it into law, but before officials can start to implement the logistics, federal authorities have to approve it. DeSantis said President Donald Trump promised his administration will approve it.