The Order Directs HHS to Finalize a Rule to Allow for the
Importation of Safe and Affordable Prescription Drugs from Abroad
Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis joined President Donald Trump at the White House for the President’s signing of a historic executive order to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs has been one of Governor DeSantis’ top priorities since taking office, which he has accomplished with the support of President Trump, Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Mary Mayhew, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Jose Oliva and others. To watch the Governor’s remarks at the White House, click the image below or click here.
Lowering the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs has been one of my top priorities since taking office as Governor. Thank you, President @RealDonaldTrump for signing this historic executive order and @RepJoseOliva for working with us at the state level to get this done. pic.twitter.com/oSbSiEKckh
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 24, 2020
“I was excited to join President Trump last week for the signing of this landmark executive order and to highlight what we’ve accomplished at the state level to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Governor DeSantis. “For far too long, the exorbitant prices of these drugs have only increased, hindering Floridians’ and Americans’ abilities to pay for the medication they need to get by. With his signing of this executive order, President Trump has done what those before him could have but chose not to, and we thank him for his support.”
“No one should have to choose between buying groceries and paying for their medication,” said AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew. “Because of Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida pioneered an approach that contributed to greater federal action to support opening a pathway to the importation of high-quality, affordable prescription drugs from Canada.”
“The affordability of prescription drugs is of paramount concern to the people of Florida, especially the elderly,” said House Speaker Jose Oliva. “The House decided to take this issue on once and for all and moved legislation, joined by the Senate. Upon passage, President Trump and Governor DeSantis relentlessly pushed for Washington D.C. to stand with consumers. The Governor’s leadership was invaluable to securing the federal assistance needed to make this program a reality. More affordable prescription drugs are on their way to Florida and what people said couldn’t be done, was done.”
“Help is on the way for Floridians frustrated by the high and rising cost of prescription drugs,” said Senate President Bill Galvano.“Friday’s announcement by President Trump was a great step forward for the historic legislation passed in 2019, which will allow our state to pursue lower priced drugs on the international market, while ensuring safety through oversight by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. I am tremendously grateful to Governor DeSantis, Speaker Oliva, Senator Bean, and many others for their leadership as Florida continues to lead the way on this important issue.”
“President Trump’s executive order marks the beginning of a new day in our nation and our state, one where everyday citizens can afford the medication they need,” said Senator Aaron Bean. “Savings for taxpayers can’t come soon enough, and I’m proud of our efforts at the state level to help get this across the finish. Thank you to President Trump and Governor DeSantis for making this happen sooner rather than later when many said it couldn’t be done.”
“I would like to thank President Trump for following through on his promise to lower drug prices for all Americans,” said Representative Tom Leek. “The historic actions President Trump took will help Floridians receive the prescription drugs they need to live a longer and healthier life, at a much more reasonable cost,” said Representative Tom Leek. “Furthermore, a big thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis and Speaker Jose Oliva for finding this creative path that will safely allow Floridians better access to their vital medications. Without their leadership, this would not be a reality and pharmaceutical companies would still be taking advantage of those who are sick and in need.”
In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act to allow U.S. wholesalers and pharmacists to import prescription drugs from Canada, but only if the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) authorized it – which it had not done.
Governor DeSantis saw this as an opportunity and has led the charge to lower the cost of prescription drugs since his first months in office. In February of 2019, Governor DeSantis, joined by Secretary Mayhew and Speaker Oliva, announced his commitment to create a prescription drug importation program by offering access to federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs that have been imported from Canada.
Throughout the 2019 Legislative Session, Governor DeSantis championed CS/HB 19: Prescription Drug Importation Programs and following its passage by the Florida Legislature, the Governor signed the bill into law in June of 2019. The legislation created two programs to safely import FDA-approved prescription drugs into the state but required federal approval.
With the support of President Trump, HHS in late July 2019 published the Safe Importation Action plan that outlined measures HHS and the FDA will take to allow for the safe importation of certain prescription drugs.
After working closely with the White House and federal partners, Governor DeSantis announced in August 2019 that AHCA had officially submitted its concept paper to HHS for Florida’s Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program. The concept paper served as a model to inform HHS as they develop rules on the importation of prescription drugs.
In December 2019, HHS Secretary Alex Azar traveled to Tallahassee to join Governor DeSantis to announce the advancement of the Canadian Drug Importation Program. The day of the announcement, HHS issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and draft guidance for the plan.
AHCA finalized and released an Invitation to Negotiate for the Canadian Drug Importation Program on the state’s vendor bid system at the end of June 2020, with an anticipated award date of December 2020 for a vendor to assist with implementation of the program.
President Trump’s executive order last Friday directs HHS Secretary Alex Azar to complete the rulemaking process to allow for the importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada, one of the final steps in the process to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans and Floridians.
“These executive orders are a step in moving Florida forward on the path toward access to safe, more affordable prescription drugs from Canada and other countries,” said AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson. “Under Governor DeSantis, Florida has been a leader among states in embracing change on this issue. No drug, however amazing, will help you if you can’t afford it.”
“Florida’s hospitals share Governor DeSantis’ priority to lower the cost of care,” said Florida Hospital Association Interim President & CEO Crystal Stickle. “Reducing prescription drug costs for all Floridians is an especially laudable goal during this time of uncertainty for many families who are experiencing hardships due to COVID-19. Hospitals see firsthand the negative impact that families suffer when they cannot afford to pay for their prescription drugs. Unfortunately, the result is much greater health care needs. We appreciate the Governor’s leadership and look forward to continue working with him on finding innovative ways to lower prescription drug costs.”
“Governor DeSantis’ and President Trump’s efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs will help Florida patients wanting to access vital medications,” said Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida CEO Justin Senior. “Those with chronic conditions, especially, often face the sky-high prices on their prescription drugs. Our critical care hospitals are especially appreciative of this new policy because we represent some of the highest performing hospitals in Florida, which depend on consistent access to affordable medication. Our hospitals not only perform most of the state’s speciality care for those with serious illnesses, but we also treat patients who do not have insurance and cannot afford prescription drugs. This new executive order is an important step forward in our work to protect patient health, which is even more important during our ongoing war against Covid-19.”