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.

Drew Wilson

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.


  • Brian

    April 16, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Completely bogus claims by the group airing the commercials. If it were true, I’m wondering why we haven’t seen news stories of Canadians dropping dead from crappy imported drugs. These groups are funded by drug manufacturers who have grown to live on the high costs Americans pay for their drugs.

    • Cynthia M Clark

      April 16, 2019 at 8:38 pm

      You are so right, Brian. Just fearmongering in an attempt to allow the pharmaceutical companies to continue to hike up prices of drugs ten fold. Those TV ads are disgraceful. I’m not a fan of DeSantis, but he’s got it right this time!

    • Charlet Moorhead

      April 17, 2019 at 3:17 am

      Agreed! The greed of BIG PHARMA is disgraceful! I appreciate your view on this matter. ✌💜🐾

  • Jim W

    April 16, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    That’s what I was kind of thinking, too. Wouldn’t put it past big pharma and those pols who’ve benefitted from their lobbyists’ bribes.

  • Shirl

    April 17, 2019 at 12:06 am

    Pass the bill and enact the law.

    While on the subject of meds, Florida should let legal, responsible users of prescription pain meds get their medications back and allow our doctors to responsibly prescribe them without fear of punishment. More than 75% of “opioid” deaths are from illegally-gotten heroin and street fentanyl, not prescribed pills. People now consider alternatives such as illicit drugs or suicide. Still angry at Rick Scott for that.

    • Charlet Moorhead

      April 17, 2019 at 3:15 am

      Agree with your view on people in pain and the doctors who are not prescribing due to fear. Suicide is a very serious and real issue among pain sufferers. Thanks for your view on this subject. ✌💜🐾

  • Jeffrey Liberty

    April 17, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    “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.”

    —- there is no guarantee the pills and capsules here now are authentic.

  • Jeffrey Liberty

    April 18, 2019 at 12:10 am

    Is It Safe and Cost-Effective to Import Drugs from Canada?

    States are considering importing prescription drugs from Canada, but is it safe? Will it save money? Can it be done? Three, easy-to-read infographics explain what state leaders need to know if they’re interested in drug importation legislation.

    1. Is it safe to import drugs from Canada? Yes, 40 percent of all drugs sold in the United States are already imported and 80 percent of active ingredients used in US drugs come from abroad.

    2. Will states save by importing drugs from Canada? States and their consumers can reap large savings by paying Canadian prices. For example, Lyrica costs $6.04 in the United States and 63 cents in Canada, Xarelto cost $12.44 here compared to Canada’s $2.11 price, and Eliquis costs $6.21 compared to $1.60 north of the border.

    3. How does a state implement a drug importation program? The federal government can authorize importation if it is safe and saves consumers money. NASHP has crafted model importation legislation and clarified the steps state policymakers can take to initiate drug importation.

  • Eileen Eulic

    April 18, 2019 at 11:51 am

    WOW – you are a very evil person. You want Americans to die because they can’t afford their medicine.

  • Sue

    April 24, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Why is it that we can’t legally buy prescription drugs from Canada anyway? I know mailing drugs is illegal but I know my husband could get his meds a lot cheaper if we could order from Canada. There’s a Canadian pharmacy over in the next town too. Do they get drugs from Canada or are they just fooling people? Imo it all sucks. On the other hand, how assured can we be that the market won’t be interfered with by jackals? Canada has a good reputation and some jerk just might mess that up too.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn