Aug 31, 2022

Gov. DeSantis announces lawsuit against the FDA during Wednesday morning press conference Transcript

Gov. DeSantis announces lawsuit against the FDA during Wednesday morning press conference Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDrug PricingGov. DeSantis announces lawsuit against the FDA during Wednesday morning press conference Transcript

Ron DeSantis is suing the FDA over drug pricing. Read the transcript here.

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Governor Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
Good morning. Thank you for coming. Thanks so much. Thank you. Thank you. So good to see you. Wonderful to be back in Polk County, and I’m joined with a lot of folks who you know well. Of course, you know our Attorney General, Ashley Moody, who’s here with us. You know our Surgeon General, Dr. Joe Ladapo. We have our ACA Secretary, Simone Marstiller. We have Representatives Burton, Hawkins, Tomkow, Killebrew and Melanie Bell here with us today. Then, we’ve got Bob Lavallee right here who’s going to talk about some of the issues that we’re talking about here today. Some people may remember this, but it’s been so long, one of the things we did when I first became governor is we wanted to find ways to access cheaper prescription drugs for Floridians, because that has been something that we pay an arm and a leg for in the United States for quite some time. That was when President Trump was in office. That was even before we had the Biden inflation where everything’s gone up, but this was something that continues to really pinch people’s budgets.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:27)
It pinches the state of Florida’s budget because in our programs, when we do with health programs, it causes the cost of those to go up dramatically, and so we were trying to figure out ways, “Okay, what can we do to make an impact?” Of course, now you see, particularly over the last year-and-a-half, you’ve seen big increases in groceries. You’ve seen big increases in energy, utilities, rent, all these different things with the Biden inflation. I think the drugs and being able to give some relief there, it, now more than ever is something that’s very, very important. But back in 2019, my first year in office, we wanted to find ways, so we’re limited as the state, because a lot of this is controlled by the federal government. Obviously, big pharma is very powerful in Congress and with different people in Washington, and so they’re able to structure this a lot of times in ways that benefit them over the average American. But we want to say, “Is there something the state could do? ”

Governor Ron DeSantis: (02:25)
Well, we found there was a provision of a law from 2003 that said states could apply to HHS to purchase drugs from Canada. These are the same drugs that you purchase here, they’re just 80% cheaper or 75% cheaper, and it’s all because basically American consumers underwrite the entire pharmaceutical industry. They get cheaper prices everywhere else outside the United States, and then we basically fund all the research and development and everything that goes into producing these. So it’s definitely inequitable, and so we said, “If we can use this program and be able to contract, even if we just started with state agencies contracting, we’d be able to save 100 million, $200 million for taxpayers, and then, obviously, that will trickle down to consumers and we would be able to expand this.” So I went up to Washington, I met with President Trump. I told them, “This is something that’s really good,” and a lot of people were telling him no because you had, “Pharma doesn’t like it.” I actually had a discussion in the Oval Office, so with the president and people at HHS and these other agencies, and they were saying, “No, no, no.”

Governor Ron DeSantis: (03:39)
Basically they tried to say it’s a safety issue, but people use drugs in Canada. This isn’t Djibouti, it’s a safe country, so you can get drugs and do. But it does involve relabeling and make sure that everything is accurate and they’re bonafide pharmaceuticals and not counterfeits, so there is things to do, but that’s something that’s easily attainable. So President Trump said, “Yes, I will approve,” and so the legislature passed this law saying Florida needs to develop a plan. We created this plan and it took a long time to be able to get that just right. We sent it up to Washington during the Trump Administration for approval from the FDA. So this was in the latter part of 2020, almost two years ago that they’ve had this. We didn’t know when Biden came in whether this would be something that he would support or not. He actually said last summer, he signed an executive order saying he wants to approve these plans for states. So that was, I think he did that in June or July of 2021.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (04:49)
So here we are now, we were the first state to do this other states followed Florida’s model. It’s just been sitting at FDA for months and months and months, actually, probably over a year, year-and-a-half and no action. So Biden is saying he wants this for consumers, but yet his administration is not willing to act to be able to approve it so that people have access to more affordable pharmaceuticals. Our view is, is, “Okay, when he said last summer that he supported it, we were hoping that we would get an answer.” I think it’s even harder. Some of these folks will tell you, it’s hard to even meet with people at the FDA, very dismissive, very arrogant with how they’ve gone about this stuff, but our view is, we need to keep pressing forward. So after 630 days, we still sit here waiting for an answer, and so it’s our view that we’ve waited long enough. Today we’re taking action. The state of Florida has now filed a lawsuit against the FDA. They have unlawfully withheld an unreasonably delayed approval of Florida’s program, and we think this violates federal law.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (06:08)
So we’re asking a federal judge to order the FDA to put an end to that delay and to approve Florida’s program. Included in the lawsuit are claims under the Federal Freedom of Information Act. In early July, ACA filed the FOIA request seeking records from the FDA to increase transparency on their approval process. Under the act, the FDA had 30 working days to respond to our request, and I don’t think you’ll be too surprised, we still have not received a response to our request, so the clock’s been ticking. We have a right to know what the FDA has been doing in the last two years to ensure, are they putting politics over patients? Are they putting the interest of big pharma over the interest of average Floridians and taxpayers? That’s what we need to find out. So we’ve been continuing to push for transparency. Why are we here, because this is a distribution facility? All this stuff is ready to go at this point, it’s turnkey. We have people that are dealing with the Canadian companies. We will have them, they can be brought here.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (07:15)
They get labeled properly, inspected, and then they can then be used in the general public. Obviously, Florida is going to buy a lot of these for our programs. It’s going to save us a huge amount of money. So all this stuff is locked and loaded, ready to go, and it has been ready to go for quite some time, so we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. We’ve done everything that we need to do to get this moving. I think it’s really, really important, especially when you see what’s happened, particularly over the last year-and-a-half with some of this stuff with big pharma, some of the things they’ve put out on these vaccines and all this other stuff, people want transparency, and we need to have the truth on all this stuff. So this is an example of ways to be able to access medications at a much cheaper price by removing some of the bureaucracy, some of the restrictions and some of the red tape.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (08:07)
We also did an executive order recently where our agencies, when they negotiate are basically cutting out these middle men, because these middle men charge a lot of money and they pass those costs on consumers. So we’re looking at all different ways we can act to be able to help folks, and so today’s lawsuit, I think, is very, very important. We think this is urgent and we think we deserve a response very quickly. So I know the Attorney General’s team is going to be in court on this and are going to work really hard to get good relief for the people of the state of Florida. So this is yet another way where we’re innovating and leading the country. No one was talking about this until we stepped forward, passed our legislation several years ago, submitted our plan, very well thought out plan to the Trump Administration, and then have been waiting now under the Biden Administration, but a bunch of other states have followed suit and have tried to follow. I’d hate to think that the Biden Administration would not approve it just because it’s Florida, because they have issues with Florida politically.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (09:12)
I hope that that’s not the case because on issues like this, this will benefit people of all walks of life, regardless of any political persuasion, so hopefully, they’ll just do the right thing. It’s unfortunate that we had to do this, but at the end of the day, we’ve waited long enough and we’ve been very patient and we’ve provided information when they’ve asked for it, but yet, we’ve not gotten a response. If you’re for doing this and you say you want us to be able to do this under a law that’s been in existence for almost 20 years, well then, now’s the time to stand up and make that very clear. Then if you think about what we’re seeing our drug CR prices are twice, three times, depending on the drug way higher than the average price of drugs in other parts of the world and in other countries. So we’re dealing with PBM markups, that obviously does it, but then access to other markets we will be very, very good. So we want to be able to have accountability. We want to be able to defend the taxpayer and I’m happy that we’re taking action today. I remember being here. When were we here last time? It was like-

Speaker 1: (10:22)
It was May of last year.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (10:24)
Yeah. So we were here last spring, the spring of 2021, and we were hoping that we would get a response. Then that’s when later the president issued his executive order saying this is something that he was telling the FDA to move forward with. So we thought, “Man, maybe we got some movement here,” and then we waited, waited, waited. I think the FDA, what did they say eventually? “Oh, we’ll meet with you in the spring of ’22,” was their initial thing. Literally, they approved, they say do it in the summer of ’21. We try to get moving on it and they’ll say, “Okay, we’re going to address it many months later,” so that’s just dragging your feet and that’s not the way we want government to operate. So we’re happy to be here. We shouldn’t be here, but we’re happy that we’re not just going to take this lying down. So we’ll hear from some other folks, so Attorney General.

Ashley Moody: (11:14)
Thank you, governor. Thank you so much for being here today. I know many of you took time out of your lives to be here from work or from your families. This is such an incredibly important issue, and I want to point out the tremendous attention to detail and willingness to get things done by this governor and to think outside the box. He is always looking for new and innovative ways, things that we haven’t done before to achieve progress for Florida. In this situation, as you heard him say, this law’s been on the books for a while. He’s like, “Why are we not doing this?” The drugs are over 200% more costly to Americans where we can just get them at a cheaper savings from Canada. This seems like somebody would’ve figured this out before, but thanks to this governor who is willing to drill down on the details, Florida stands ready to benefit. More importantly, you, the taxpayers stand ready to save $150 million a year if we can push this through.

Ashley Moody: (12:31)
It is so important, and we have filed suit this morning to not only seek documents and as to why this has been pending for so long. When we filed our application, Florida was the first right before Biden took office and we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. When he came out and said, “This is important,” and demanded that the FDA work with the states to get this done, maybe he meant except Florida. We were the first. We have all our ducks in a row. We have our facilities. We’ve dedicated funding. We’re ready to help Floridians because of this governor and our great leadership and our legislature. I would like to say that it’s because it’s sitting on someone’s desk, but I think we all know that this administration is not quick to act to get things done for Florida. What is so frustrating as the attorney general is this is becoming such a common plea, such a common demand, Washington, Biden Administration, do something, do something. On the border, do something. Stop fentanyl, do something. Lower prescription drug costs for Americans, do something. It has become the do-nothing administration. I just want you to hear this, compare that to Florida, where this guy-

Ashley Moody: (14:03)
Compare that to Florida, where this guy, every time he comes up with something new, he is like, “Get it done.” Now I would like to tell you that doesn’t mean that I am … it is a lot of hard work as the attorney general for a governor like this. From where I up, we had a saying, “Get her done.” This is the, get it done administration. And compare that to the Washington, Biden, do nothing administration. And it is unfortunate that we are now a year and eight months into the administration and we are now having to file suit to get them to do something. An agency of the administration cannot just sit on applications.

Ashley Moody: (14:47)
They have to act with reasonable timeliness. They can’t unreasonably delay. And it is sad again, that we as Florida have had to bring suit against our own government in Washington to get them to do something. But sadly, here we are today. So I want to thank you for paying attention to this, for being here to help us make this important announcement, for supporting us as leaders of this great state.

Ashley Moody: (15:16)
As we push this administration to act in a reasonable man manner, to benefit all Americans in this instance, Floridians and recognize and understand that all of us standing up here from the Surgeon General, from Secretary Marstiller, to the Governor, all of your leaders here, we are doing something. We are getting it done for the benefit of Floridians. And I’m honored, tired, to serve as Attorney General with this great Governor. Thank you governor DeSantis.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (15:56)
Okay. Surgeon General, Joe Ladapo.

Joe Ladapo: (16:07)
Hello. Good morning. So this is an interesting issue and it has overlap with some other issues that we’ve discussed, I’ve had the pleasure to discuss with the Governor. So the facts are very clear. I have the Department of Health, we have county health departments. We prescribe medications for diabetes, for COPD, asthma, for HIV, other chronic conditions. And Florida went through the process, first took the initiative of this 20 year old law that provides this much room for states to be able to get drugs from Canada for lower prices.

Joe Ladapo: (16:53)
And it’s this narrow, right? They weren’t trying to make it possible that’s why it took 20 years and a governor who actually cares about people and about what he thinks matters, to take it up and move it forward. And Florida developed a very detailed, the Attorney General described it and the governor described it, a very detailed plan for how we would, it’s a section 804 importation plan, for how we would import drugs, chemically analyze them to ensure that they’re not counterfeit and there aren’t any significant safety concerns, distribute them, make sure they stay within the state, because part of the law required that drugs only stay within the state.

Joe Ladapo: (17:40)
So they can’t go to other states. In other words, other states can enjoy the benefits of lower prices for drugs, if we actually get them from Canada to this state. And so I looked at this report, it’s like 200 pages long or something. It’s very detailed and all of these pieces are in place, we start the process under the Governor’s leadership in I think 2020 or so. And almost two years later, the FDA has not responded to our request to move forward.

Joe Ladapo: (18:15)
So what’s behind this. So I will tell you what I think is behind this, based on my assessment of the evidence. And what’s behind this, I think is the pharmaceutical industry is going to do what they do and what they do is that they lobby for laws. They keep their profits as high as possible. It’s not about you and me, sick people. That’s not what it’s about. That’s what it’s lobbying for laws to keep their profits high, is certainly how they’ve behaved.

Joe Ladapo: (18:47)
But it’s up to leaders to make choices that they think will benefit people. And my sense from looking at everything is that leaders in the federal government right now, the FDA, the Biden Administration have prioritized the interests of pharma. And be very clear, their interest is to keep their profits high and they do that best by making Americans pay more for drugs than anyone else in the country, anyone else in the world.

Joe Ladapo: (19:14)
Rather than what’s best for what’s best for Floridians and what’s best for other Americans, which is to stop this complete highway robbery, in terms of the markup with drugs. And I’m for people making profits, that’s wonderful, but with pharmaceutical drugs, you need a new word. It’s not even profits to describe what’s going on.

Joe Ladapo: (19:39)
And I want to say two other things real briefly. So one thing that the pharmaceutical industry likes to convince people is true, is that all this extra profits, these extra prices, these high prices that we pay in this country are so they can do research and development.

Joe Ladapo: (19:57)
So there are two important things about that you should know. First of all, the research and development that they do, a third of it, maybe more is not for new drugs. It’s for new formulations, new dosing, combination drugs, basically ways to keep their exclusive, hold on drugs. The second thing that you should know is that a lot of the innovation, it doesn’t happen in the pharmaceutical industry. It happens in universities.

Joe Ladapo: (20:28)
And they come in and they swoop in and they partner with universities and then they call the drug theirs and they even take credit for it oftentimes, even though they weren’t involved in the actual research and development. So those are just some points I want to share with you. I’m happy that we have a governor who cares about people and puts people over pharmaceutical industry interests. And it’d be nice if we saw that in the federal government, because we wouldn’t be having the conversation today. We’d be importing drugs already, or maybe we’d even have lower prices here. Who knows? All right. Thank you.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (21:13)
Who would you rather have, Ladapo or Fauci? Okay. Secretary Simone Marstiller.

Simone Marstiller: (21:28)
Okay. Thank you. Thank you. So ladies and gentlemen, what you’ve heard today, you should be hearing a lot of frustration. And this has been a frustrating process from the macro to the micro. My team and I have had so many meetings with the FDA it’s not even funny. But all we’ve gotten is word salad, bureaucracy, stonewalling, stiff arming, and stall tactics.

Simone Marstiller: (22:04)
This thing has been sitting on somebody’s desk for well over 600 days. This is not what government is supposed to do. Government is supposed to serve you, which you all see by the example that Governor DeSantis shows, that General Moody shows. We are here to do what is right for the people of the state of Florida. I am appalled personally, I’m appalled as a citizen of the United States that this is happening. I cannot believe that we actually have to Sue the FDA to do its job.

Simone Marstiller: (22:43)
It’s outrageous and you all should be outraged and just as frustrated as we are. Now, we know that there are reasons for this. Be they political, be they corporate, whatever the case may be. We don’t have time for that. Governor DeSantis has been steadfast in developing healthcare policy that is good for the people of the state of Florida. And ultimately, if other people followed his lead, would be good for the people of the entire country.

Simone Marstiller: (23:17)
We know that what we need in healthcare today is transparency. We need some aspect of consumerism. We need to disrupt the process and the industry. No question about it. So in addition to the Canadian Drug Importation Program, which ladies and gentlemen, we pray one day, we will be able to fill these racks and actually start to achieve the savings that we know we can achieve for the people in the state of Florida, upwards of 150 million dollars.

Simone Marstiller: (23:51)
To me, it’s a no-brainer, but we’re not resting. The Governor has directed his agencies, my own included, to look at the pharmacy benefit manager complex, for lack of a better term. And this is what they are. Basically, they are middle men between your doctor and your pharmacy that are increasing the prices of your drugs, bottom line.

Simone Marstiller: (24:15)
And so the Governor has directed his agencies, mine included to make sure that we start shining the light on those kinds of practices, that there is transparency in those processes. I know we’re going to get a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, but it needs to be done, because this is the only way that you and me are going to be able to start affording our healthcare and our prescription drugs.

Simone Marstiller: (24:46)
So we are in the process, Governor of amending the contracts that we have with our health plans, who deliver healthcare services to our Medicaid subscribers. We are in the process right now of amending those contracts to include provisions that open up the transparency, so that we can see what’s really going on in pharmacy benefit manager land.

Simone Marstiller: (25:11)
The other thing that my agency is preparing to do is to negotiate some lower prices for certain injectable drugs, like insulin or epinephrine that are not currently included by federal law in the Canadian Prescription Program. We want to make sure … insulin epinephrine, those are things that millions of people need. The prices are too darn high, so I was going to curse, but I’m not going to.

Simone Marstiller: (25:43)
And we need to disrupt that process. And so what we are going to do at ACA is engage a company to get out there and negotiate those prices down, because the time has finally come for us to say not just no, but hell no, we’re not going to continue to pay these prices to the pharmaceutical companies. We’re done. We are done. And I want to thank the Governor and the Attorney General for putting their collective feet down and saying no more. Thank you.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (26:22)
Well, thanks Secretary Marstiller and ACA has worked on this for a long time. In fact, our current DCF Secretary, Chevon Harris was initially at ACA doing, getting this and she did a great job. Simone came in and really got it across the finish line for where we’ve done everything that we’ve been asked to do and that we’re required to do under the laws. And now it’s just a matter of getting these shelves filled.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (26:48)
And as Joe said, people, we want people to do well, businesses to do well. There’s nothing wrong with being profitable, but what we have here with the pharmaceuticals and the pharmacy benefit managers, you have basically laws and regulations that are propping those profits up artificially, and that’s causing you to pay more.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (27:09)
But it isn’t like that’s a free market that we’re paying so much more than Canada or these other places. And so we are intentionally, basically forced to pay more the way the market has been structured. And that’s a lot of legislation, a lot of regulation, a lot of different things that have happened over the years to get us into this spot.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (27:28)
And so people provide services, good. We want you to do well, but to have laws designed to be able to artificially keep your profits high, that’s not free market at all. And so we recognize that. All right, Bob, you ready to go?

Bob Lavelle: (27:44)
All right.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (27:44)
You want to come up?

Bob Lavelle: (27:45)

Governor Ron DeSantis: (27:46)
Okay. You got it?

Bob Lavelle: (27:50)
Thank you, Governor and all that’s involved. My name is Bob Lavelle.

Bob Lavelle: (28:03)
Involved. My name is Bob Lavalle and I’m from Marion County. And this is a personal speech that I’m going to have a couple of minutes. We are obviously senior citizens. I know you don’t think so, but I am 69 years old. My wife is 65 and we have, both have life saving medicines that we need. In 2015, I suffered a stroke. By the grace of God and my doctors, I’m okay except for a little bit of word stuff. I have to have a medicine that’s called ELIQUIS and it’s a life saving medicine. My wife has to have medicine called ADVAIR, and next month I will be making a decision because next month I’m going to have to have a refill for 90 days supply that I’ve been using all since 2015. The cost of this medicine is going to be about north of $500 for a 90 day supply.

Bob Lavelle: (29:48)
It’s going to cost the ADVAIR about north of $300 for a 90 day supply. I used to work. After the stroke I was okay and then I was able to work so I could supplement the food and the medicine. Well, due to unfortunate circumstances, I lost my job. Therefore, I lost my income. Therefore, I lost means to get the medicine. So this next month in September, we’re going to have to decide either it’s going to be medicine or food, and that’s a big decision, but we have to do it, or we’re not going to be able to pay our bills. So I just wanted to know that I really, really appreciate the governor and all that’s involved for doing this. It’s going to be a lifesaver in itself. So please support whatever you can to this effort. And I really, really, really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (31:31)
Thank you. Good job. Thank you. Good job. Really good job. Thank you. And so you hear different stories like that, and you think yourself, if he and his wife were just in one of these other countries, then they probably wouldn’t even have this problem. Same drug. It’s one thing, if this were just something that no one could get anywhere, but it’s really the crunch is in our country because of the way these laws are. So we’re doing our part. As Joe said, a very, very narrow provision of federal law. I don’t know how it got through. Maybe I’m sure they lobbied to get it as narrow as possible, but we’re driving through that. And we’re trying to bring relief to the people of Florida.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (32:16)
And this is said again from the beginning of the administration, we’ve been working on this. And I said, at the time it was going to take time. And I told people, this is not just going to happen overnight. There’s going to be a long process. We’re going to have to go through regulatory. And I fully anticipated that, but I didn’t anticipate, we would get to this point where an administration is saying they support it and then we just toil for months and months, and months. And so now’s the time to act and hopefully we’ll get judicial relief. And this will be the start of, I think something that’ll be very good for a number of states throughout the United States. Okay. Any questions?

Governor Ron DeSantis: (32:59)
So the question is about the members of Congress. Well, I mean, I think the issue with what they’re doing first, this is a provision of existing law, and this is something that we are exploiting to help Floridians. Now I do think in Congress, they need to start looking about the influence that you have from big pharma. The end of the day, we need to do policy that’s in the nation’s interest, not just what’s in pharma’s interest. I mean, they basically have run the show for a long time. And as Joe said, we want companies to do well. I mean, it’s not as if we don’t want that. And you do need to be able to do well in order to research and develop and all that stuff. But I think that that could be done in a way that’s not putting almost the entire burden of that on American consumers and patients and allowing other folks to do less.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (33:48)
So I’m hoping that there will be an interest in looking at this in the Congress when the new Congress takes in. Obviously they’re not going to do anything with the current lot of them that are in there. You wonder, I mean, drug prices have gone up for so long. Pelosi’s been in office for 30 some years and it just keeps going up. She’s a great example of why we need term limits for members of Congress.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (34:17)
But I do think there’s maybe more of a window now because I think a lot of people have seen how big pharma has handled these COVID vacs’s. And there was a push to get them out and everything. And I get that, but there hasn’t been the type of transparency that I think that consumers deserve when it comes to this. And so I think a lot of people have looked at that. I know Joe is looking at different things. You’ve had different studies have come out in different parts of the world. What was the most recent Thailand? Thailand talking about the increased risk of myocarditis, particularly for younger boys and men. And don’t forget, this is something that governments are wanting to force on these people, without any regard of what the adverse effects would be.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (35:06)
And you’re banning Djokovic from coming into the United States to play tennis when he has already had COVID and he’s first of all, probably at zero risk anyways, because he is in such good shape. Why would you be excluding based on that? And they don’t recognize a reason why someone would opt against it. They don’t recognize reasons. We help save jobs for a lot of these women nurses because they were wanting to force it on them. And a lot of them didn’t want to do it because they had… So that was this…

Governor Ron DeSantis: (35:40)
But when you combine a lack of transparency with the heavy hand of government, I think that that’s caused a lot of people to say, whoa, what is this all about? And I’m happy in Florida. From the very beginning, we said, there will be no mandates. We made sure that school districts couldn’t mandate it on students to go. DC, they want to lock the kids out of school if they don’t get a COVID shot. Now they were under pressure now. So they said, well, we’re postponing the requirement till January. And I think it’s because they didn’t want to see the visuals of all these kids locked out of school before the election in November. I think that’s the only reason why they did it. But a lot of those parents don’t think that that’s the appropriate thing. The idea they’re trying to push jabs on six month old babies, but that’s just what’s happened.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (36:31)
They wanted to do things like vaccine passports. We banned it in Florida, but in other parts of the country, you’re having to show different types of vacs paperwork for COVID to be able to go to a restaurant or things like that. And you wonder why Florida had the record for domestic tourism in 2021. And while we’re better now than we were pre COVID so far in 22 and why our restaurants are through the roof and everything are places like San Francisco are down 40%.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (37:07)
And then to try to cause people to lose their jobs over this. And if it wasn’t for Florida, again, we stood up, you would’ve had firefighters lose their job. You would’ve had police officers lose their job. You would’ve had nurses lose their jobs. And these are people that had been on the front lines from the entire start of COVID. And most of them have already had COVID at that point. And yet now they’re being told you could lose your job based on a decision you make on this and that was wrong. So we called a special session of legislature. We protected those jobs throughout Florida. And you shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and taking a shot that you don’t want.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (37:49)
So the way it’s been weaponized, and I think it’s caused a lot of people to say, whoa, I mean, it’s one thing to say, get it, make it available for people and then let them make that decision, but to circumscribe their rights or their livelihoods based on this and particularly based on relatively flimsy data. I mean, I said, and Joe said, when they were saying on the boosters, we said, look, there’s no real data to support this. They’re just asserting it. And so they were available for people in Florida, if you wanted to do it. But certainly for people that are younger or middle age, there was just not much data at all. And then for the baby vacs, there was no benefit. That’s been proven on that. And yet there’re doing emergency authorization. So it’s interesting just how quick the FDA moved to do baby vacs without adequate data. And then how they’re dragging your feet on this, which would be able to save a lot of people a lot of money. Yes, ma’am. Simone, you want to talk about it?

Simone Marstiller: (38:54)
What Florida has done with its plan is we started with a limited number of drugs. So again, injectables are not permitted. So what we looked at are drugs that can address chronic conditions. So HIV, there are some medications in pill form that deal with diabetes, heart disease, those kinds of things. Right. So those common chronic conditions that many, many people are dealing with. So we started with that limited number in order to make sure that we can do this and do it right and do it safely. We literally did a pill to pill, price comparison on these medications and found that what we are paying right now in the US pill to pill compared to Canada was a 100% more basically. Right. So imagine the amount of money that we could save the taxpayers of the state of Florida when this thing is fully implemented.

Simone Marstiller: (40:06)
So in addition to the limited number of medications, we also wanted to start with a limited universe. So phase one of our plan would be to import these drugs to be used by individuals who are served by the Department of Health, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Corrections, and of course, and certain members that we serve as well. So again, this is the safest most reasonable way to do this right now. We’ve got this fantastic partner here that has put up this warehouse, LifeScience Logistics. This is what they do. They’ve got everything ready to go from importing to relabeling, to getting them here, a distribution process, all of that. We are ready to go and we’ve been waiting for 630 days for approval.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (41:14)
And we do think, I mean, this is a new model because this is the first time this law’s been used. And so we are taking pains to show how it be relabeled, making sure everything’s good. This is certainly achievable and doable, but our plan is we anticipated having it in by now. But once we do that, we’re going to show it works and we want to expand and we want to get it out to as many people that need it as possible. Well, so look I mean, at the end of the day, there are issues with…

Governor Ron DeSantis: (42:02)
At the end of the day, there are issues with, have you completed the terms of your sentence? Have you paid the restitution, any fines and fees? That is required. So that can be an issue. But on the 20 arrests that we did, those are people who are categorically ineligible to vote. These are people that have been convicted of sex assault, and people who have been convicted of homicide. So there’s never been any law or constitutional amendment enacted in Florida, that provides them with an automatic right to vote. They are ineligible to vote in the State of Florida. They can apply through the clemency process, not going to get probably a very good hearing from me and Ashley when you’re talking about those serious crimes, but they do have a right to do that, but none of them have done that. And so on those issues, those are cut and dry, very, very clear.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (42:47)
On some of these others, you do have some people that are told, “Well, once you get out of prison or you get off probation, Amendment IV says that you’re able to vote.” That’s not necessarily true, because if you rob somebody’s house and you have to pay them back restitution, you haven’t paid them back the restitution, you have not completed your sentence. And so we want to make sure that the intent of that amendment is there. But that is not an issue with those 20 arrests. Those people were never eligible, and under no possible construction of that amendment could somebody who is a convicted rapist or a convicted murderer be eligible to vote in the state of Florida. Yes, ma’am?

Speaker 2: (43:30)
First of all thank you for all you’ve done for our community. I was wondering if you you would also support the march happening hee in Florida, and possibly making Florida a legislative state.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (43:47)
So specifically do what though? What kind of legislative reforms would that require?

Speaker 2: (44:01)
Either more freedoms or people coming in for patient…

Governor Ron DeSantis: (44:03)
Yeah. No. Honestly, we may be forced to do that. Because if you see what they’re trying to do in California, they’re going to penalize physicians who say something that the government deems to be misinformation. Now, just think about how chilling that is, because a lot of the things that have been accurate about COVID for example, were once deemed by government bureaucracies to be misinformation. I would say very early on, if you’ve recovered from COVID, you have protection because of that prior infection. And they would say, “Oh, DeSantis is saying this. Experts disagree. They say the vax has more protection.” Nonsense. Every clinical trial that’s been done has shown that, that protection is stronger than the protection given from an mRNA vaccine. We also talked about the need to have schools open. We were the first to say full throttle, “We’ve got to do it.’

Governor Ron DeSantis: (44:53)
Oh my gosh. Do you remember what they were saying about me? You have this lady now down in Miami-Dade, the teacher union boss. She’s on this ticket. They were bringing hearses out to protest the fact that we had kids at school. They were trying to tell parents their kids were going to die by going to school. That was a lie then, everybody knew that. But a lot of the higher ups were acting like this was somehow a problem. Even though Sweden had, had kids in school, all that other stuff. And then of course, you’ve also had them say, if you take mRNA vax, you will not carry the virus and you will not get infected. They told us that. And so that was misinformation. And so you had a lot of physicians over the last two years who have been right on this stuff, but they dissented from orthodoxy and they dissented from the medical establishment. And so therefore they were pilloried. Joe has been attacked.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (45:45)
In fact, I told him, “When you take this job,” I was like, “There’s not going to be a lot of people that are saying the things you’re saying, because it cuts against orthodoxy. It cuts against the narrative and they’re going to come after you.” He doesn’t care. He’s fine to do that, but it’s important. So what we’re going to do though, and we should have done this, this past legislative session, we had some hiccups with a couple people in the Legislature. But we’re going to do the opposite of California. Not only are we not going to do something where someone get penalized for saying what the government thinks misinformation, we’re going to protect people’s right to practice and be able to do evidence-based medicine. And just because some woke association is saying one thing, that does not mean that you are bound by that when you have the evidence and the data supporting you on the other side. Yes, sir?

Speaker 3: (46:48)
[inaudible 00:46:48].

Governor Ron DeSantis: (46:57)
What agency is it in?

Speaker 3: (47:06)
[inaudible 00:47:06].

Governor Ron DeSantis: (47:12)
Well, clearly they don’t lose their job generally. I think in corrections, I’d have to learn a little bit more about it. What on corrections are they requiring? For example, when I was in the military, there’s different standards for being in the military about what you can and can’t do, versus in civilian life. When you’re in law enforcement you’d have to see. So I’d have to see what that is. But obviously I implemented the program here in Florida, the voters passed it. We made sure to follow the will, and we did that very early on, and that was my duty to do that. Okay, One more. Yes, sir?

Speaker 3: (47:50)
[inaudible 00:47:50].

Governor Ron DeSantis: (48:09)
I don’t know if you want to take that, because it would be the Attorney General’s office that would investigate potential fraud about representations that were made about the shots. And here’s the thing, it’s one thing if you say, “Look, we’re not sure, it’s experimental, emergency use, no mandate, but if you want to take it.” But I do think there were people that were making these representations saying, “Oh no, pregnant women, it’s fine. We know it’s safe.” And they really didn’t know that. And so they’re saying these things, and anyone that had any concerns was basically be telling your anti-science, when in reality this thing hadn’t been around long enough to necessarily know. And so it’s one thing to go into something and say, “Hey, we’re in a pandemic, let’s just make this available. But we’re honest, we don’t necessarily know every answer.” They went beyond that and they said, and higher ups said that, “This is safe for this. It’s been conclusively proven.” Joe, do you want to talk about? There’s definitely been some stuff with menstrual cycles and some of those other stuff.

Joe Ladapo: (49:15)
Yeah, sure.

Joe Ladapo: (49:21)
Yeah. As a scientist, I struggle with this because I went into medicine, I felt it was a noble profession. And there have been a lot of things that have not been noble that have been done by my profession, wittingly or unwittingly over the last two years. So one of these things that the Governor brought up, the sort of menstrual strikes… Pardon me. I don’t have menstrual cycles, so I can’t say the word. So menstrual cycles, for example. So that’s an example of something that many women after taking the mRNA vaccines noted a change in, and you remember back early on, anytime anyone said anything, “I had chest pain afterward, or I had a fever and I couldn’t go to work the next day,” or whatever the concern was. It was always pushed away and silenced and dismissed. And that’s one that has been acknowledged, even in its acknowledgement, it’s been minimized.

Joe Ladapo: (50:38)
So the official response now from NIH is that, “Yes, it can happen, but the menstrual cycles return to normal usually after one or two months, so it’s fine.” But then anyone who’s thinking would say, “Well, why is it changing? Why is administration of this vaccine leading to menstrual cycle changes?” And there are a number of adverse events that have essentially been minimized, or have not yet been investigated when the obviously sensible thing to do would be to investigate them. So fortunately the Governor’s given me some latitude to pry into some of these issues, and we’re doing that and we’re doing it well and in a way that will hopefully bring some more truth and transparency to the safety profile of these vaccines.

Ashley Moody: (51:34)
And I’ll just jump in here. I was going to ask my fellow participants if they could hear some of these questions, I am fearing my older age is preventing that. But I will go on based on what I think I heard from you. And it was a question about a potential criminal investigation. I think I heard that word. And I’ll just take this opportunity to sometimes I think part of my job is educating consumers and Floridians about where to go and where to report things, because sometimes people get confused and they really want that direction from those that are leading the state.

Ashley Moody: (52:08)
And so in any instance, if you have information about any type of criminal activity, that would go to our statewide law enforcement agency, that’s the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. We just appointed a new Commissioner Mark Glass, and I would advise that. But what I think you were asking, even though that word was in there. Our lawyers look at oftentimes, and we do have investigators in the civil arena to look at whether there has been false or deceptive or fraudulent statements surrounding pushing any product, any consumer product. So I would always encourage on any matter, if anyone has a suspect that, a claim in this regard, they can always call our office or go to and submit information, because we do have people that look at that.

Governor Ron DeSantis: (53:03)
All right, guys. Thanks so much. God bless. Appreciate it.

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