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Duval Legislative Delegation member Sen. Aaron Bean, a Republican from Fernandina, successfully guided a bill through the Florida Legislature this year that is well intended, but may have a few pitfalls.

The bill seeks to allow importing drugs from foreign countries. The intent is to save consumers money.

The concept of the bill has wide support, including the governor and the president.

But drug companies have written Gov. Ron DeSantis warning that the FDA cannot verify the safety of imported drugs.

Drugs are cheaper in other countries that have price controls and because most new drugs come from America, which does not have such controls but relies on the free market.

Someone must pay the huge research and development costs. It usually falls on U.S. consumers and drug companies sell surplus drugs at large discounts in other countries.

Drug manufacturers issue caution about plans to allow drug imports:

“In 2003, the Medicare Modernization Act gave the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to allow the importation of drugs from Canada, if the secretary could certify the imports would both 1) pose no additional risk to public health and safety, and 2) generate cost-savings for American consumers. To date, not a single secretary, from Democratic and Republican administrations, has been able to make this certification,” they say.

“Over the years, a handful of states have piloted drug importation programs as a way to provide access to drugs from outside the United States, but there has yet to be a successful program. For example, six states tried a contracted importation program with a Canadian operator of online pharmacies that cost $1 million to implement. Four years later, the program was deemed a failure and terminated.”

Manufacturers insist the seeming disparity in prices overlooks the fact that the comparisons are on list prices, and ignores the fact that large discounts are available. In addition, hospitals, lawsuits and insurance companies are major drivers in drug costs.

Spending on prescription drugs in 2017 was $333.4 billion. Of that amount, the vast majority, $285 billion, was paid through health insurance coverage which includes private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health insurance coverage.

It is easy to see why people are concerned and perhaps the new Florida law will help, but the warnings should give Florida residents pause about the new drug import bill.

 

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida.  He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union.  He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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