DeSantis fights back against anti-Canadian drug import ad

By Mike Vasilinda - Tallahassee Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A group funded by the pharmaceutical industry is spending thousands of dollars on an ad targeting lawmakers who want to lower prescription drug prices, but Gov. Ron DeSantis and lawmakers say the effort to lower drug prices is hitting a nerve.

The ad that has been blanketing televisions in Tallahassee for two weeks states, “too many have already died from counterfeit drugs.”

DeSantis is pushing the plan for cheaper Canadian drugs. Now he’s pushing back against the ad.

“I was told initially that it’s not going to make a difference. If it’s not going to make a difference, why would you want to spend all that much money? DeSantis said. "That tells me that it is a consequential attempt at reform."

Sen. Aaron Bean (R, Florida), a sponsor of the bill, believes the legislation has hit a raw nerve.

“We have discovered something that they don’t want anybody else to know or make any changes, because we are paying the highest prices on the planet for prescription drugs,” said Bean.

Phillip Combs is taking a new cholesterol drug. His copay is $400 a month, which he said is a quarter of his monthly budget.

“I personally don’t have the resources to pay for an expensive drug like that,” said Combs. "I need it.”

Even if the bill gets out of the Senate and is signed by the governor, the federal government would still have to approve the importation. DeSantis said getting federal approval is a 50/50 proposition. 

DeSantis also said savings on Canadian drugs can range up to 70%, adding he has President Trump's backing for the legislation.

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