As anticipated, bills to finally legalize the purchase of Canadian drugs by U.S. consumers were introduced in both houses of Congress this week.
Here’s a news release excerpt on the Senate bill:
U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced critical drug importation legislation today that will reduce the cost of prescription drugs in the United States. The Senators said their legislation, the “Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act,” will bring consumers immediate relief and will ultimately force the pharmaceutical industry to lower drug prices in the United States.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would save American consumers $50 billion over the next decade, including more than $10 billion in federal government savings.
The bill allows U.S.-licensed pharmacies and drug wholesalers to import FDA-approved medications from Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan and pass along the savings to American customers. This approach will allow Americans to benefit from prices in these countries, which are 35 to 55 percent lower than in the U.S., while still enabling consumers to receive medications at a local pharmacy. The legislation would also allow individual consumers to purchase prescription drugs for personal use from safe, reliable, FDA-inspected Canadian pharmacies…
“As Americans struggle with increasing health care costs during the deepest recession since World War II, more and more individuals are forced to skip doses or split pills, neglecting their health needs to keep food on the table,” said Senator Snowe, a member of the Health Subcommittee. “By implementing a safe prescription drug importation program, we will increase competition within the domestic prescription drug market which, in turn, will ensure more Americans have access to safe and affordable medications.”…
“For far too long Americans have seen health care costs, especially prescription drug costs increase year after year,” said Senator John McCain. “Re-importation legislation would allow access to safe and effective prescription drugs at much lower prices than are available in the United States. If enacted, the legislation will provide the much needed relief to American families, especially seniors and others on fixed incomes, who are facing tough economic times.”
And here’s a news report excerpt on the House version of the bill:
As more Americans find themselves struggling to pay for their prescription drugs, United States Representatives Marion Berry (D-AR) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) introduced a bill Wednesday to help lower the costs of pharmaceuticals for consumers.
“The high cost of prescription drugs reduces access to life-saving medications, particularly for the millions of individuals who lack prescription drug coverage,” said Berry. “Prescription drugs can be imported safely and effectively into the U.S. while at the same time providing significant savings to consumers. This bill will help individuals get the medicines they need by lowering costs and ensuring the integrity of our safety standards are met.”
“The unnatural barriers to competition on prescription drug costs prevent the appropriate medicines and the appropriate doses from going to the Americans who need their prescriptions filled as part of their doctor’s treatment. Furthermore, during a time when millions of American families are making cuts to their budgets and retirees have lost substantial amounts of their life savings in the market, we should be working especially diligently to find safe ways to reduce the costs of medicines. This is a straightforward proposal with bipartisan support in Congress, and now is the time to take up this measure,” said Emerson.