Early last week, the Big Pharma lobby proudly announced that it had cut a deal with the White House and that, as a result, President Obama would reneg on his promise to permit Americans, once and for all, to buy drugs from Canadian pharmacies.
Late last week, Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, tried to resurrect Canadian drug reimportation by adding it as an amendment to a $43 billion funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
Political observers say the amendment is likely to be stripped from the final bill — but we’re quite sure that this political football will be kicked around a few more times before all is said and done.
“There was a lot of opposition and the drug industry has been doing everything it can to stop this,” said Vitter. “There was a concerted effort to kill this around the Democratic table last night.”
Added Vitter: “I don’t understand why I am not hearing about drug reimportation in all the health-care reform proposals.”
Sen. Vitter, let me tell you why: Because a vast majority of the American people want the right to buy drugs from Canada, but Big Pharma’s dollars carry more weight in Washington — with both political parties — than the will of the people.
Canadian pharmacies have been a political football since the Clinton Administration. At different times, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have both supported drug reimportation. Earlier this decade, Congress passed legislation permitting Americans to buy drugs from Canada; the legislation was never implemented, however, because of various loopholes.
In 2006, Democrats promised that if they gained control of the House and Senate, drug reimportation would finally become a reality. They did, and it didn’t.
In the last presidential race, both Barack Obama and John McCain expressed their strong support for reimportation. And yet, when push comes to shove, Canadian pharmacies are being pushed aside again. I’m guessing that if McCain had been elected, we’d see different excuses — but the same outcome.
So, after a decade of kicking this issue around, Americans still don’t have the right to buy prescription drugs from Canada.
It should be obvious by now that this issue has nothing to do with political parties. It has nothing to do with red and blue. The only color that matters here is green. And Big Pharma has enough of that to keep this football in the air until the public finally stops caring who wins the game.