Update: 5:28PM, 3/20/13 – The Florida Senate Banking and Insurance committee passed SB 662, the companion bill to HB 0605. It passed 10 to 1, with only Senator Negron voting against. It now moves to the Health Policy Committee.

Original Article:

Hooray for the Florida House, or at least the House Health Quality Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives. It voted yesterday to approve HB 605, a bill written to limit the cost of repackaged prescription drugs, and force dispensing physicians and their distribution allies to follow the same average wholesale prices (plus a small dispensing fee) that pharmacies have to follow.

Despite a packed chamber filled with lobbyists' from both sides, the vote was unanimous, with 12 Yeas and 0 Nays. From here the bill moves to the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee.

I have been hard on our legislators this year regarding the repackaged physician dispensing issue. I even suggested that we all go out and “buy our legislators early”, since Tallahassee is awash with special interest repackaged drug money that has hampered the good efforts made the last 3 years to fix this issue. To be perfectly fair, the House has been a far more reliable ally to employers and consumers on this topic than the Senate has. It did pass a similar bill last year only to watch the Senate flush its opportunity when Senate President Mike Haridopolos simply, and inexplicably, refused to let the companion bill, SB 668, come up for a vote. I say inexplicably, but many of us could name the reason. We could name hundreds of thousands of them.

In 2010 both houses got it through, only to watch outgoing Governor and Senatorial hopeful Charlie Crist veto the measure. I suspect a thorough look at his Senate campaign donor list would explain that subtle maneuver.

So this year support in the House looks strong, as we warily watch the Senate, which still needs to move on Companion Bill SB 662. I encourage all Florida residents and employers to contact your state reps today to let them know you want this price gouging to stop. I've contacted my representatives. Rep. Ray Pilon, (R) Sarasota, told me he has not made up his mind regarding the issue, but thanked me for the additional information I sent.

Senator Nancy Detert (R), Venice, has not responded to my multiple queries. Not a good sign in the least, but we will keep trying, and take the little victories as they come.

You may find a list of Florida Legislators here.

A list of Florida Senators may be found here.

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