Governor Signs Prescription Drug Reform Act
Jupiter - Wednesday May 3, 2023: At a news conference in Jupiter Wednesday Governor DeSantis signed into law a measure aimed at reducing prescription drug prices. The Prescription Drug Reform Act, said the Governor, takes aim at Pharmacy Benefit Managers, known as PBMs. They are the middlemen in the drug supply chain to your local pharmacy.
"They make huge, huge amounts of money, and really help drive the cost of prescription drugs, higher and higher," said the Governor. "And right now you have about three of these PBMs that control 80% of the prescription drug market. It hurts of course consumers, it also hurts neighborhood pharmacies.
The new law will curb some of what the Governor called PBMs deceptive practices. “It’s called steering and it’s a deceptive practice. And so, what we’re saying is PBMs can’t steer you to a mail order pharmacy that they control. If you want to go to your local pharmacy then you should have a right to be able to do that.”
The measure also prohibits PBMs from forcing someone to restart a medication they know doesn’t work, so called “step therapy”, it authorizes the Office of Insurance Regulation to investigate PBMs for possible rule violations, and it requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose increases of 15% within a calendar year or 30% within a three-year period.
The bill ran into stiff residence from lobbyists in the legislature, said the Governor. “These guys in the legislature got lobbied very heavily. They we’re actually saying if you take out the middleman its gonna cause drug prices to sky rocket. I don’t know how that could happen.”
The Florida Senate passed the Prescription Drug Reform Act on a vote of 40 to nothing.
READ the News Release from the Governor's Office in FULL below:
Governor DeSantis Signs Most Comprehensive Legislation in Florida History to Increase Accountability and Transparency for Prescription Drug Costs
JUPITER, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the most comprehensive reforms to Florida’s prescription drug market in state history. The Prescription Drug Reform Act codifies the Governor’s actions from last year to require accountability among pharmaceutical middlemen, empower consumers through increased choice among pharmacies, and create transparency in prescription drug price increases. More information is available here:
“This legislation builds a foundation of transparency for pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) practices and drug prices in Florida, allowing consumers to make the best choices for their own health,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “PBMs and Big Pharma have managed to escape the public eye and work in the shadows for far too long. I’m proud to sign a bill that takes the reins back from these health care monopolies while empowering consumers.”
“Prescription drugs can drastically impact a person’s quality of life, and for some Floridians, they are the difference between life and death. Patients deserve to know when drug price increases occur and where they can find their prescription drugs at an affordable price,” said Senator Jason Brodeur. “Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, we are holding PBMs, which are acting on behalf of pharmacy benefits plans, to standards that protect the patients. This great bill will help patients in Florida receive their medications in a more accessible manner and at a more affordable cost.”
“I am extremely proud to see the Prescription Drug Reform Act pass the House,” said Representative Linda Chaney. “Patients have enough to deal with. They don’t need to fight their PBM and insurance company, too. It’s long past due that we put patients first, which is what this bill does. Today, we stood firm and clearly said ‘enough is enough’ to powerful PBMs, putting patients with cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and other chronic illnesses above profit. It’s as simple as it sounds, and yet it will be truly life-changing for some of our sickest, most vulnerable Floridians and their families.”
“Governor DeSantis has consistently put Floridians first in the fight to lower drug costs and make health care more accessible,” said Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Jason Weida. “I’m proud to stand with him as he signs the most comprehensive legislation in Florida history to rein in the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex by holding Big Pharma and PBMs accountable, driving transparency never seen before in this industry in Florida.”
“PBMs and Big Pharma have profited off our seniors who take numerous medications, and I am so grateful for Governor DeSantis for once again standing up for our older residents,” said Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Michelle Branham. “This legislation is critical for seniors on a fixed income because it will keep out-of-pocket costs down and give them the freedom to choose the pharmacy of their choice, putting true patient care back at the forefront for our elders.”
Senate Bill 1550 institutes regulatory best practices for PBMs operating in Florida and provides the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) the authority to examine and investigate PBMs and review possible violations of rules, as is done with all insurers in the state of Florida. Further, PBMs will also have to disclose all organizations affiliated with the applicant, including any affiliated pharmacies or companies within their corporate umbrella. The bill institutes a series of patient protections within the insurance code, to include prohibiting a PBM from forcing a patient to undergo “step therapy” or failing twice, i.e. the practice of forcing someone to restart a medication they know doesn’t work when they switch insurance companies.
Additionally, the bill reinforces the Governor’s commitment to transparency in the cost of prescription drugs by requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose price increases for price hikes of 15% within a calendar year or 30% within a three-year period.