DeSantis touts plan to cut drug prices but voted against drug pricing bills in Congress

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Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken more than $350,000 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry since 2019.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday held a news conference in which he told state lawmakers that he wants them to pass new regulations that he says will lower the cost of prescription drugs, an issue he's been focusing on as governor.

DeSantis said that he wanted Florida lawmakers to regulate pharmacy benefit managers, third-party administrators of prescription drug plans. He wants the Legislature to ban pharmacy benefit managers from forcing customers to use mail-in pharmacy services and from charging pharmacies more for drugs than they cost, which he said increases the cost of drugs.

However, when DeSantis was a member of the House of Representatives, he voted against legislation that would lower the high cost of prescription drug costs multiple times. He's taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry since he was sworn in as governor in 2019, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

DeSantis has accepted more than $350,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies since 2019, including more than $53,000 in 2022 and more than $316,000 in 2021.

In 2018, DeSantis voted against a congressional motion aimed at prohibiting "mergers that would unreasonably increase the costs of pharmaceutical drugs."

He also voted against the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which included a measure that forced drug companies to pay rebates to the federal government if they raised drug prices more than the cost of inflation. The bill was introduced in response to convicted felon Martin Shkreli's company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, hiking the cost of Daraprim — an antiparasitic drug — overnight back in 2015. Turing raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill, despite the fact that nothing about it had changed. The House of Representatives passed the bill 266-167, with all "no" votes coming from Republicans. The bill eventually became law.

In addition to announcing his plans to lower drug prices, DeSantis repeated anti-COVID vaccine rhetoric at the news conference and accused President Joe Biden's administration of blocking his plan to lower prescription drug costs by importing them from Canada.

"Basically what they're saying is, Well, you know, if you buy the same drug in Canada, we're really concerned about safety and all this other stuff. You know, the FDA wasn't as concerned and isn't as concerned about safety when they're authorizing mNRA [sic] shots for 6-month-old babies," DeSantis said.

Congressional Democrats passed and Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act last August. The law allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and help lower prescription drug costs for older Americans.

Observers have speculated that DeSantis may challenge former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. Polls show DeSantis is gaining on Trump, whose approval among Republicans dipped slightly after November's midterm elections, in which some Trump-endorsed candidates lost their races.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.