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New ad campaign blasts drug import plan

“We all want to pay less, but we can’t risk dangerous counterfeit drugs.”

Bills to allow prescription drugs to be imported and sold in Florida pharmacies are advancing, but a new ad campaign is urging voters to tell their lawmakers to vote it down.

HB 19 and SB 1528 would open the door to imports from Canada in the hopes of lowering drug costs for Floridians. The proposal, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, has already cleared the House and is pending its final committee stop in the Senate.

But the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) says there’s no guarantee the pills and capsules that would flow into Florida would be authentic, or even from Canada.

According to PSM, the plan would undermine the effectiveness of the federal Drug Supply Chain Security Act, which secures the U.S. prescription drug supply through a “track and trace” system that follows medicines from manufacture until they’re dispensed.

Without those safeguards, PSM says, Floridians could end up taking lower-quality — and possibly dangerous — counterfeit drugs.

“Importation proposals sold under false pretenses constitute a public health threat,” said Shabbir Safdar, PSM’s executive director.

“Every Florida legislator that glosses over the dangers of counterfeit medicines in talking about these bills increases the chance that someone will break the supply chain and introduce a counterfeit into Florida even before the law is implemented.”

PSM is taking its message to the public with TV, radio and print ad buys in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, and Tallahassee media markets.

The video component of the campaign begins with an all-caps title card reading “attention Floridians who take prescription drugs,” before rolling into news clips of counterfeit drug scams.

“Some politicians in Tallahassee want a law that could flood Florida with dangerous uninspected drugs,” the ad narrator says. “We all want to pay less, but we can’t risk dangerous counterfeit drugs. Call Senators. Stop Senate Bill 1528. We just can’t take the risk.”

In a news release announcing the campaign, PSM board member Rick Roberts said the bill could allow counterfeit drugs to get a foothold in other states as well.

“Nineteen years ago I received a counterfeit medication as part of my HIV treatment sourced by my pharmacy from a Florida pharmaceutical distributor. This same counterfeit made it to a total of seven other states,” he said.

“This was a dark day for Florida’s leadership, but many positive efforts were made to secure the supply chain after that. If Florida passes importation, I’m afraid it will return to the days of being the source of counterfeit medicines in America.”

PSM is one of many organizations railing against the importation plan. Last week, conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform launched a campaign referring to the proposal as “socialist price control,” and referring to supporters as “Bernie Bros” because of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ support for the policy at the federal level.

Americans for Tax Reform argues importation would stymie medical advancements by cutting drug company profits.

PSM’s video ad is below.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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