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DeSantis tackles prescription costs with executive order

Says FDA 'dragging feet' on Canadian import proposal
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Posted at 7:13 AM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-09 19:57:28-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis took the stage at Cape Coral High School on Friday to announce a plan to lower the cost of prescription medications for residents in the state.

He announced he would sign an executive order that would allow the state to hold prescription benefit managers, or PBMs, accountable for the prices people are ultimately charged for their medications, and open the door to reforms. He said it would also help smaller, independent pharmacies that want to stock those medications.

DeSantis said he asked Simone Marstiller, Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, to look into PBMs and help devise a way to ensure cost-saving measures will be put in place.

"They do much more than set prices," Marstiller explained. "They manage prior authorization; they have to approve your getting your prescription, even after your physician has deemed you need it."

She said the executive order would be used as a foundation to an overall reform of the prescription industry.

The governor also said he is looking into a provision in federal law that would allow states to purchase drugs from Canada and is working with federal agencies to activate that provision. He has submitted a proposal to the FDA and submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with them to find out the status of the proposal.

"[The FDA] may very well may not be able to comply with a 20-day deadline," Marstiller said about the wait. "It has been a word salad ... we've gotten zero commitment from the FDA to do this."

DeSantis said a warehouse in Polk County is "ready to go" to receive the medications as soon as that approval is given, but he hinted there may be a legal battle in the near future to get the program going.

In discussing the upcoming school year, DeSantis said he would blockade any attempts to require a vaccine mandate in public schools.

It's the continued promise by DeSantis, that was met by applause from the crowd at Cape Coral High School.

On Friday, DeSantis compared the Food and Drug Administration's delayed response to allowing Canadian prescriptions, to the FDA's response to the vaccine for students.

“The point is, is that they are very flexible, very quick to greenlight this and that now they say they dont have a lot of time to do something that could potentially benefit consumers,” said DeSantis.

Lee County School District Spokesperson Rob Spicker, said the relevance of meeting at Cape Coral High School, is they are the only pharmacy tech academy in the county.

A career field that DeSantis said cheaper prescription drugs would benefit.

On Friday, when I asked about the school district’s stance on the governor's position on vaccines for students, Spicker said:

“the florida department of health determines which vaccines are required for students to attend school and the school district of lee county follows the rules they implement” 

Rob Spicker, Assistant Director, Media Relations & Public Information, School District of Lee County