TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — President Joe Biden signed a new executive order on Friday aimed at improving the conditions for market competition among American businesses.

Part of the order focuses on the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, and mimics a previous effort by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to support importation of lower-cost prescriptions to Florida from Canada. Biden’s order would cover the United States.

DeSantis signed a bill into law in June of 2019, establishing two programs intended to allow the import of prescription drugs to Florida, but contingent on federal approval by the Food and Drug Administration. At the time, the bill was expected to save the state $572,495 in the first year and about $546,000 each year after, according to state Senate analysis.

Earlier this year, DeSantis came to Lakeland to discuss the process again, saying that the cheaper drugs from Canada would cut down on what he called an “outrageous” amount of state-level spending on prescription drugs.

Days later, the Biden administration asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by pharmaceutical companies that would prevent states, including Florida, from allowing the imports and saving Americans millions of dollars, according to further reporting by the Associated Press.

Now, Biden’s expected executive order doubles down on saving Americans money for their medical needs, and echoes the efforts by DeSantis and the Florida legislature to allow the lower-cost drugs from Canada to make it to not just Florida, but every state in the U.S.

The White House released a fact sheet on the order. The section on health care focuses on prescription drugs and their costs, among other health-related issues.

According to the White House, Americans pay 2.5 times more than other countries for the same medications, sometimes even more. Prices are high and rise far more than inflation would allow, and 25% of Americans reportedly have difficulties paying for the medicine they need. The White House says a third of Americans say they aren’t taking their meds as prescribed.

An example of this is country’s diabetic population which, as of 2018, makes up more than 10% of the US, according to the American Diabetes Association. For diabetic patients, it’s becoming more and more common to ration the insulin they need due to the rising costs. It got even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the executive order, a new strategy to lower costs for American consumers and patients will come in the following directives from the president:

  • Directs the Food and Drug Administration to work with states and tribes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada, pursuant to the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.
  • Directs the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS) to increase support for generic and biosimilar drugs, which provide low-cost options for patients.
  • Directs HHS to issue a comprehensive plan within 45 days to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging
  • Encourages the FTC to ban “pay for delay” and similar agreements by rule.

The current methods for pharmaceutical development don’t promote innovation, as the pay for delay rule allegedly reduces funding for research and development and discourages innovation and drug trials, according to the White House.

The order says that the key to fixing the cost issues and improving the economy is through healthier market competition and innovation.

“Inadequate competition holds back economic growth and innovation,” the White House fact sheet said. “The rate of new business formation has fallen by almost 50% since the 1970s as large businesses make it harder for Americans with good ideas to break into markets.”

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