Both the House and Senate have passed a plan to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. And now the bill heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Despite opposition from Democrats, HB 23 (the House version, already passed) was passed by the Senate Monday morning by a margin of 27-13.
The House then moved the Senate version in Messages, in what was an active end of the day on Monday.
The proposed program would be intergovernmental: administered by the Agency for Health Care Administration, pills from Health Canada would be brought in via the program.
A second prong of the program would allow imports from other countries deemed to be safe by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Health Canada is the equivalent of the FDA in our country,” Sen. Aaron Bean, who sponsored the Senate version of the legislation, explained previously in committee.
They will even, Bean said, test the product before export. Extra testing, he added, will be applied to drugs from a third country that Canada then ships to the United States.
The federal government would have to approve this arrangement, per the legislation.
Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat, said the legislation was “well-intentioned,” but cautioned that “vulnerable populations,” such as prisoners and pregnant women, would be impacted.
Powell noted also that Canada has price controls on medications.
Sen. Doug Broxson, a Republican in support of the bill, noted that Americans pay double what people in other countries pay.
“Elderly and the poor are skipping doses … cutting pills in half,” Broxson said, for lack of an “affordable process.”
“This is a cry to Washington … to loosen up,” Broxson said. “Our cry to Washington is to help us, give us some relief.”
In close, Bean urged that Senators save a copy of any article written about this vote in a “scrapbook,” suggesting that this vote is a historical moment.
“Push that green button,” Bean urged. “It means you’re tired of paying a 1000% markup for prescription drugs.”
“We’re sitting back and enjoying the highest drug prices on the planet,” Bean said. “It’s not hard to save money when you are the most expensive on the planet!”
Gov. Ron DeSantis is a major supporter of this legislation.
DeSantis, in his State of the State message, said he wanted Floridians to be able to buy prescription drugs from Canada, and that federal law facilitates this.
Voters are enthused also, via a survey released Monday morning by AARP: 73 percent back the plan, despite the pharmaceutical industry agitating against the reform legislation.
“What’s striking about this polling is that Florida public opinion does not seem to have changed much since March of this year, despite an expensive statewide advertising campaign by groups linked to pharmaceutical manufacturers,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP’s Florida state director. “In March, a poll by Florida Atlantic University showed about 75 percent support for this initiative. That’s pretty close to the finding of our AARP poll.”