DeSantis Signs Foreign Drug Importation Bill, Says Federal Approval Is On Fast Track

Jun 12, 2019

Governor Ron DeSantis defended his Canadian drug importation plan from attack ads airing in Florida markets during an AARP town hall event Tuesday, April 23, 2019.
Credit Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Canadian and international drug importation programs in Florida are a step closer to becoming a reality. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to do so into law Tuesday.

The programs will need a green light from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services before they can go into effect.  At his ceremonial bill signing in The Villages Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis told the crowd that’s on a fast track.

“We are already working directly with Health and Human Services at the federal level, and I’m going to be talking with the president next week more about it,” DeSantis said. “But we envisioned maybe this taking until next year for us to do it – we’re moving quicker because the president says he wants to move quicker.”

The Canadian importation program would be housed under the state Agency for Healthcare Administration – which oversees Medicaid. It would be intended to serve what some legislators refer to as “vulnerable populations.” That includes Medicaid patients, inmates in the Department of Corrections and those getting medications from the Department of Health.

The other program would be for use by anyone in the state, and it’s not limited to Canadian imports. The International Prescription Drug Importation Program would be housed under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

DeSantis credited House Speaker Jose Oliva with prioritizing healthcare costs this legislative session. Oliva was also on hand at the bill signing.

“There is nothing as large a problem to us, and the way we live, as is healthcare costs,” Oliva said.

DeSantis and Oliva both took shots at the groups that ran TV and online ads claiming the program will flood the state with unvetted, counterfeit drugs.