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DeSantis announces plan to crack down on pharmacy benefit managers

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Joe Byrnes
/
WMFE News
Several of the 150 or so people attending an event in The Villages Thursday made photos or videos of Gov. Ron DeSantis while Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo spoke.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing legislation to crack down on pharmacy benefit managers, also known as PBM's.

The governor made the announcement in The Villages Thursday.

PBMs are the pharmaceutical middlemen, the companies that administer insurers' drug plans, negotiate discounts and rebates from drug makers, and work with pharmacies.

DeSantis said his plan will increase transparency and help small drug stores. A Publix representative was there to speak in favor of it.

"We feel that this is a critical first step to ensure that Floridians have access to their medications at the lowest price possible and at the pharmacy that they choose," said Katie Scanlon, senior director of pharmacy administration at Publix.

DeSantis wants to eliminate requirements by PBM's to use mail-order pharmacies or a limited number of pharmacies and to end surprise billing and clawbacks.

"Over the Christmas holiday, you know," he told the crowd of about 150 mostly senior citizens, "I have some kids that are under the weather. The first lady was a little under the weather. So she sends me out to fill a prescription. So I go. And this guy is telling me these PBM's are killing his business. And I'm like, 'We're gonna do something about it. Don't worry.'"

The PBM trade association opposed a similar bipartisan federal bill -- the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act -- in June. The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association called it "anti-competitive and harmful to patients" and said that PBM's reduce drug costs.

DeSantis also plans what his office calls "drug price transparency," requiring drug makers to disclosed proposed price increases and to submit an annual report accounting for price hikes.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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