The Florida state legislature continues to push a bill that would make it easier to import prescription drugs from Canada despite concerns over increased fraud and counterfeiting that might come with the bill; the company of Bill Hepscher, one central advocate for the bill, has faced accusations of faking prescriptions.
The Republican-controlled Florida House overwhelmingly passed a bill in April, 93–22, that would create a prescription drug importation allowing drugs from Canada that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would have to approve.
“The United States pays more for prescription drugs than anywhere else in the world,” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said in a statement, supporting the measure. “In Florida, we can change that by employing safe, common sense solutions such as importing FDA approved prescription drugs from Canada.”
Opponents of the legislation contend that it could open Floridians up to risky, counterfeit, or ineffective drugs, and that the program could prove costly to oversee. Several medical groups and the pharmaceutical industry came out against the legislation. The legislation also raises questions over whether importing drugs from foreign countries could open the program to abuse.
Canadian Medstore, which imports drugs from Canada, has faced accusations of faking prescriptions to obtain prescription drugs. Bill Hepscher, the owner of Canadian Medstore, testified before a Florida House hearing in March, imploring the state legislature to pass State Rep. Tom Leek’s legislation that would make it easier for businesses such as his to import foreign drugs into America.
“I applaud Governor DeSantis and Speaker Leek’s leadership on this important issue,” Hepscher said in March. “I thank Rep. Leek for introducing the legislation that will give Floridians access to safe and affordable medication they need through a free-market mechanism.”
Hepscher’s own company has, however, faced accusations of faking prescriptions using fake names to receive more drugs through Canada.
In July 2016, Tiffany Duckett, a former employee of Canadian Medstore, sued Hepscher’s various companies, as well her direct manager and Tampa Canadian Medstore co-owner, Daniel Downs. Duckett claimed Downs fired her for objecting to file fraudulent prescription orders.
Another employer of Duckett, Michelle James, signed an affidavit claiming Duckett had told her about her issues with Canadian Medstore; James also claimed to have heard Hepscher beg Duckett to return to her job and say that any potentially illegal things asked of her “would have been in the customers’ best interest.”
As the drug importation bill continues to go through the Florida legislature, Democrat Florida State Rep. Al Jacquet said that lawmakers should craft this legislation in a way to not expose Floridians to further risk and potential abuse.
“The concept of making sure medication is cheaper is a good one. We have to tailor it in a way that is responsible. We’re not ready for this yet,” Jacquet said. “It’s not the time to be going this big, or this far.”
Note: Readers can find the cited documents by searching the Hillsborough County, Florida, court database for case number 16-CA-006200.