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Drug Importation Vote Delayed

Pharmacy Technician amongst two shelves of prescription pills.
Daylina Miller/Health News Florida
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Senate health care panel ran out of time Thursday and was unable to consider a measure aimed at allowing imported prescription drugs from Canada. 

The drug importation program is a legislative priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services held a confirmation hearing on Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew Thursday and ran out of time before taking up the drug importation proposal (SB 1528). But Chairman Aaron Bean has included the bill (SB 1528) on the agenda for the panel’s next meeting, now scheduled for Monday.

The measure would authorize the state Agency for Health Care Administration to establish a Canadian drug importation program for the state, if the federal government approves the plan. The Senate bill also would require prior legislative approval, in addition to federal approval, before final implementation.

A similar House proposal (HB 19) has cleared all of its committees and is ready for a full House vote.

Under the House measure, pharmacies and wholesale drug distributors located outside the United States could export drugs to pharmacists, pharmacies and wholesale drug distributors who would be registered with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The bills have drawn intense lobbying from the pharmaceutical industry, which is opposed to the program. DeSantis, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump in last year’s Republican primary, said recently he had spoken to the president personally and that Trump was “enthused” about the idea.