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Florida's drug importation bill faces uphill battle

Posted at 5:52 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 17:52:37-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The battle over whether to allow state programs and Floridians to have access to prescription drugs imported from Canada has already been waged in the Legislature, but it is now shifting from the halls of Tallahassee to Washington, D.C.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a powerful industry group, is gearing up to fight federal approval of the Florida plan.

The group says there is no way to guarantee the safety of imported drugs. Despite Governor Ron DeSantis’ support of the legislation, the group has sent a letter to the governor requesting a veto.

The drug bill passed by lawmakers last week, which could lower the cost of drugs in Florida, is also being criticized nationally by some conservatives.

The Wall Street Journal, for example, ran an editorial chiding Republicans for supporting policies espoused by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The plan was also criticized by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, who says price controls will lead to medicine shortages.

“Price controls on drugs, like the Europeans do, to us is socialism. What this bill would do is import socialism,"said Norquist.

The legislation passed last week would allow Florida to establish the Canadian and international drug importation programs.

The Canadian program would be focused on importing drugs for programs such as Medicaid, the Department of Corrections and county health departments. The second program, an international drug importation program, would be geared to the broader state population.