Gov. DeSantis discusses executive order to combat prescription drug prices in Florida

DeSantis said order would prohibit spread pricing, clawbacks in PBM contracts

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he plans to sign an executive order to tackle prescription drug prices in Florida.

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said he plans to sign an executive order to tackle prescription drug prices in Florida.

The governor was joined by Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller in Cape Coral where he announced the order, which would “hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable” and “drive transparency in prescription drug costs.”

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Under the executive order, the Florida Health Care Administration would audit pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, to make sure cost-saving measures are in place.

DeSantis also said it would enact provisions to prohibit spread pricing and clawbacks in contracts with PBMs.

“Spread pricing is a deceptive practice where PBMs collect payment from the individual and keep leftover funds after they’ve already reimbursed the pharmacy for the prescription and the service costs. The practice essentially adds in a middleman and that practice drives up the costs for everyday Floridians,” he said. “Clawbacks occur when an individual overpays for their prescriptions and the PBMs keep the overpayment as a financial bonus.”

[RELATED: Years ago, DeSantis pledged to import cheaper medications from Canada. Here’s why it hasn’t happened]

DeSantis said this is one step in the process to drive down prescription drug costs. He said the state has been working to be able to purchase drugs from Canada, but Florida’s request has not been approved yet.

“This would save hundreds of millions of dollars for the state of Florida. And so we were we’re still fighting that. We just did a FOIA request to get the information about why they’re stalling the decision,” he said.

Florida has filed a request to import medications from Canada utilizing authority in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act. DeSantis first announced the plan in February 2019. Over the past two years, Florida submitted a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services addressing all key components needed to safely import prescription drugs.

DeSantis said during a news conference in May 2021 the program would save between $80 million to $150 million on drug costs a year.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.