Health & Medical Political

Lower Rx Costs: Ask Your Senators to Sponsor and Support S2328

YOU CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE!

If passed, this bill will make all medicine lower in cost in the US

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation (S.2328) that would allow Americans to fill prescriptions in Canada and eventually allow imports from 20 industrialized countries.

Cosponsors of the bill, including Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Trent Lott (R-TN) and John McCain (R-AZ) have the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. Sen. Dorgan said lawmakers were leaning on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to call up their bill before the July 4 recess.

Another much weaker bill has been introduced by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH).

Two differences between the bills include:

  • Penalties for drug companies that interfere with importation by limiting supplies or increasing prices; the Dorgan bill includes such penalties while the Gregg bill does not.
  • The bi-partisan bill would direct the FDA to have a system up and running 90 days from passage while the Gregg bill would give the FDA a year to complete implementation.*

The House’s version of reimportation legislation passed last year. In an effort to move the process along, 228 House members from both parties signed on to a letter to Sen. Frist urging him to schedule Senate action before July 4.

“FACTS VS. MYTH” BETWEEN THE TWO BILLS

 


Read this Orlando Sentinel Editorial…

Senate leaders are being hypocritical
on the drug-reimportation issue

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. Judd Gregg claim to stand for free markets and less government regulation. But their actions belie that. They’re pushing a bill that appears to support reimportation of U.S.-approved prescription drugs from lower-cost countries but actually would kill it.

They aim to derail a bill by Sen. Byron Dorgan that has bipartisan support. Because Dorgan’s bill mirrors one already approved by the House, its passage would make this popular movement, at long last, a reality.

The only way the pharmaceutical industry could defeat it at that point is a presidential veto.

The Trojan Horse bill devised by the Senate leadership was introduced last week by Gregg, chair of the health committee. It purports to set up a safer drug-reimportation system than the other bills. In reality, it would:

  • Impose so much red tape on foreign pharmacies that want to do business with the United States that they would decline to participate. 
  • Delay imports from Canada for one year, and from Europe for three years. 
  • Remove penalties for what amounts to extortion – drug companies cutting off supplies from pharmacies that sell to the United States. 
  • Differ enough from the House bill that both would have to go to a conference committee. There, opponents of real reform could block agreement until this session of Congress ends and both bills die.

Don’t be fooled. The only things this bill protects are drug companies’ profits. The Senate should pass the Dorgan bill, and Frist and Gregg should stop being so hypocritical.

Under Gregg’s bill, only Canadian drugs could be reimported initially. The Food and Drug Administration would then have three years to decide which of the 15 European Union nations could participate.

Under a competing bipartisan bill sponsored by Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy and Byron Dorgan of Massachusetts and North Dakota, respectively, drugs could be imported more quickly from 20 industrialized countries, mainly Europe.

“Under this bill, it’s clear that safety is paramount, yet it opens the world to a free trade market,” said Nadeau, who said the Gregg plan’s narrow focus on Canada would fail because American companies will shut off the supply of drugs.

But Bradley and Gregg said the bipartisan bill doesn’t give the FDA the authority and resources it would need to ensure public safety. Gregg called it a “crapshoot for consumers.”

“I can’t believe that anyone concerned about the health and safety of the American consumer can support that bill,” he said. “Sure it addresses the political jingoistic need of ‘Hey, now you can buy (drugs) from the Internet, you can buy them from Canada, you can buy them from Greece,’ but there’s no structure behind it that gives the necessary monitoring and safety that’s critical.”

Gregg’s bill would give the FDA a year, instead of 90 days, to set up a system to monitor imported medicines. Unlike the Kennedy bill, it would not penalize drug companies that sought to limit supplies of medicines available for importation.

Several candidates said neither plan was ideal.

“The overwhelming costs to implement either of these bills make them dead-on-arrival,” said Bevill, who would focus instead on halting special patent extensions on prescription drugs and ensuring that if American drug manufacturers sell cheaper drugs overseas, that American consumers are offered the same prices.

Bass said he supports “the process of moving forward in the Senate toward passage of a bill” but isn’t taking sides yet. In the meantime, more must be done to relieve Americans of the burden of underwriting the global cost of drug research and development, he said.

Only FDA-approved drugs may be imported under the bipartisan drug importation bill. In fact, only the bipartisan bill provides a way for FDA and importers to know which drugs in distribution in other countries are FDA-approved.

Call your senators today. ask them to sponsor and support S2328.

Write them at Senate.gov

Or call them via the Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121

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