Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday followed through with a promise he made to Villagers recently by signing a bill that eventually could allow Floridians to save money by purchasing their prescription drugs from Canada.
DeSantis cautioned that the bill is the first step in the process, as the federal government must approve the plan. But he said he’s already had a favorable meeting with President Trump, who endorsed him during last year’s gubernatorial race.
“He’s in favor of doing whatever we can to achieve our goal,” DeSantis told the crowd during the ceremonial signing event at the Eisenhower Recreation Center, which was mostly attended by members of Villagers for Trump, the fast-growing grassroots political group that clearly has become the choice of many Republicans living in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
DeSantis, who vowed to pursue the bill during a February stop in The Villages, was quick to give praise to Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva for his leadership in getting the bill sent to his desk.
“He said that he really wanted us to be able to access drugs from some of these other countries where you can get them cheaper,” DeSantis said. “So we started looking around and figuring out the pathway for that.”
DeSantis said the answer quickly became obvious – Floridians should be able to purchase safe drugs from Canada that will show them significant savings.
“You have the same drug here and in Canada and it’s half the price,” he said. “You should be able to buy it there and have them send it here to Florida.”
DeSantis called the bill the start of an important process.
“I’m just glad that we’re here today and able to say that we’re listening to the people who have concerns about these costs,” he said. “We’re doing what we can to take action, to help give people relief. And I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Oliva said he was proud to see DeSantis stand firm in the wake of immense pressure from Big Pharma lobbyists, which included a hefty scheduled of television ads that warned of dangerous drugs from foreign countries.
“We’re going up against the greatest force in America,” he said. “Everyone lobbied up and Tallahassee was inundated with special interest. But the governor never flinched once.”
Oliva said the bill could allow Florida the chance to “shift the paradigm” in prescription drugs.
“It is truly monumental,” he said. “But it could not have been done without the leadership of a strong executive that does what he said he would do.”
Art Donnelly, a member of Villagers for Trump, said he was pleased that DeSantis came back to The Villages to sign the bill.
“He came back to say, ‘Commitment filled.’ We heard you and we understand,” said Donnelly, who also serves with the VHA.
Donnelly added that he hopes other states will follow suit and approve similar measures to cut prescription costs.
“It could be a really tremendous advantage, not only for seniors but for people that just can’t afford medication today,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest problems that people are facing, especially people that are economically disadvantaged in one shape or another.”
Fruitland Park Commissioner John Mobilian, of the Village of Pine Hills, said he and his wife, Mary Ann, have supported DeSantis since meeting him early in his gubernatorial campaign. And he offered praise for his efforts to tackle the pharmaceutical industry.
“I think it’s a good thing and I hope he goes all the way. I hope the rest of the states follow suit,” said Mobilian, who had hoped to speak with the governor about the legislature’s recent decision to ax a $7.5 million funding request to finish widening County Road 466A. He said his name was being passed along to the correct DeSantis aide and he was waiting for a phone call to plead his case about the thoroughfare that’s seen as the key cog in the future growth of Fruitland Park.
“I’m blown away by this,” he said. “We had that $7.5 million. Why did they pull it? They gave us $450,000. That’s not going to get us five feet down the road.”