Survey: Republicans not sold on drug importation, but support eliminating PBMs

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Support for Florida's drug importation plan? 46% among Republicans, independents.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a plan that, with federal approval, would allow Florida to import foreign drugs from Canada.

The bill (HB 19) had been heralded by Florida conservatives as a plan to save consumers money. But a new survey suggests fewer Republicans support the plan than oppose it.

The Tarrance Group, a Republican research and polling firm, recently conducted a survey that shows only 46 percent of registered Republican and independent Florida voters support the importation of pharmaceutical drugs. The remaining 54 percent did not support the idea.

The survey sampled 798 voters in six states, 133 of which were in Florida. Responses were recorded from June 3-6. The margin of error is 3.5 percent.

Florida’s results were similar to the average response across the other five states, Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Maine and Ohio. In total, 56 percent of the voters sampled opposed drug importation.

Younger voters aged 18-44 bucked the trend, with 53 percent supporting the plan. But older voters, age groups 45-64 and 65-plus, opposed the plan. The 65-plus age group came in with 63 percent disapproval.

Some Republican critics of the foreign drug importation plan have suggested that states will be importing price controls when they import foreign drugs. Those price controls, some believe, will stifle innovation in medicine.

The survey asked voters how likely they would be to support cheaper imported drugs if it meant that “access” or “development” of new treatments could decline. But support actually improved to 47 percent for imported drugs for that survey item.

The last survey item asked respondents whether they would support the elimination of pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs — the middlemen between pharmacies and doctors. Florida lawmakers in the past have targeted PBMs with pricing transparency mandates.

An overwhelming 76 percent of respondents across the six states sampled support the outright elimination of PBMs. In Florida, 80 percent of survey respondents showed support.

Danny McAuliffe

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at [email protected]


  • Ray Blacklidge

    June 12, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Boy, this article is misleading. I thought at first a majority of Florida Republicans were opposed to importing foreign drugs from Canada. Only 133 Floridian Republicans were polled. Florida has a much older population than Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Maine and Ohio. Take a poll in Florida and you will see Florida Republicans are very thankful for the Florida Republican Legislature and Republican Governor for passing HB 19!

  • James MacDonald

    June 13, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    Florida is the third most populated state in the union yet only 133 people polled!!
    Importation is not the solution, the problems are in the opaque pricing structure that benefits the middlemen namely Pharmacy Benefit Management companies.
    These companies are publicly traded corporations that have an obligation to their shareholders first and not the people whose lives they are supposed to be managing benefits for.
    The sooner our legislators on both sides of the isle enact and pass legislation that prevents these corporations from gouging the state coffers the sooner the savings will be seen.
    Why is Florida so slow in following other states that have passed legislation and have saved hundreds of millions already? Our retiree population and state Medicaid system would benefit enormously not to mention the extra revenue that would remain in our state economic system stimulating our state economy.
    This is not a Republican issue nor Democratic one – it affects us all.

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