Responding to the Biden administration’s lassitude in approving Florida’s Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program, on Friday, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to ensure transparency in prescription costs for Floridians.
The order targets pharmacy benefit managers (PBM), who manage prescription drug benefits for insurance companies, by directing Florida state agencies to enact regulations preventing spread pricing and reimbursement clawbacks, which DeSantis calls “deceptive.” Spread pricing reimburses pharmacies for a price different from what the PBM charges the health plan, thus gaining the PBM a profit; clawbacks exist when a PBM charges a direct and indirect remuneration fee (DIR) to gain additional profit after the sale of the drug.
“One of the areas we’ve been focused on, really since I became governor, in terms of high prices that are biting Floridians is prescription drug costs,” DeSantis said on Friday. “What can we do at a state level, even though most of this is driven by Washington. What could we do to potentially make an impact on prescription drug prices for Florida?”
“These are the same drugs that they sell in the United States, they’re just a lot cheaper because they have different policies. In the U.S., we pay basically for the rest of the world to have cheaper drugs,” DeSantis continued. “That’s because the pharmaceutical industry is very powerful, there’s a lot of different reasons for that.”
“For far too long leaders have chosen the path of inaction, rather than action, and fallen victim to a pharmaceutical system driven by drug companies rather than consumers,” Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller added. “Fortunately, Governor DeSantis leads with principle, always putting Floridians first and today’s actions will further this commitment by providing insight into the FDA’s review process and all agency health care contracts through the end of the decade.”
The Canadian Prescription Drug Importation program has been waiting for approval from Biden’s Food And Drug Administration (FDA) for roughly 600 days. DeSantis also announced that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to find out what is taking so long.
“Maybe they just don’t want to give Florida a win,” DeSantis declared.
As far back as May 2021, DeSantis was taking notice of the Biden administration dragging its feet.
“We were told that if it wasn’t denied last week that we should assume it’s going to be approved but we want to get that final approval because once we do, all this stuff goes in motion,” he said. “We’re standing here in an empty warehouse with our partners ready to begin final implementation to safely import these FDA-approved drugs into Florida at cheaper prices. It’s been under review enough. We have followed every regulation, we’ve met every requirement we were asked to meet and we want now to be able to get this final approval so we can finally move forward.”
“This executive order requires accountability and transparency for pharmaceutical middlemen when doing business with the state, thereby reducing the upward pressure on prescription drug costs,” DeSantis stated on the flgov.com website announcing the new executive order.
“In response to federal government inaction, Governor DeSantis granted AHCA authority to negotiate prices for drugs ineligible for importation, such as insulin and epinephrine,” the website noted. “This will reinforce the demand for Florida’s Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program and provide another avenue to impact the price Floridians pay for prescription drugs.”