Bills To Establish State Prescription Drug Web Site Stalled in Legislature
Two bills that would establish a state Web site to direct residents to Canadian pharmacies from which they could purchase prescription drugs have "become unexpectedly bottled up in the Legislature" because of a "clash of egos and an institutional power struggle between the Senate and Assembly," the Ventura County Star reports (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 8/17). Schwarzenegger's treatment of the reimportation bills and other legislation addressing issues supported by Democrats but opposed by the Republican leadership or business groups will "more firmly establish his developing track record," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Hubbell, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/18).
One bill (SB 1149), sponsored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), would require the Board of Pharmacy to establish a Web site that would list Canadian pharmacies licensed by their provinces (California Healthline, 8/4). The legislation includes a promise from AARP to cover the estimated $71,500 cost of the Web site (Ventura County Star, 8/17).
The other bill (AB 1957), sponsored by Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Los Angeles), would direct the Department of Health Services to develop a Web site by July 1, 2005, that would list prices in California and Canada for the 50 most commonly prescribed brand-name medications. The Web site also would include links to Canadian pharmacies that are licensed by a Canadian province, meet state pharmacy standards and sell only medications approved by the Therapeutic Products Directorate of Health Canada (California Healthline, 6/17). That bill would require the state to cover the estimated $400,000 cost of start up.
The two bills were held without action last week by the appropriations committees in both houses, largely because of a "struggle between the two authors and their respective houses over who will get credit for legislation that is politically popular among Democratic constituencies," according to lawmakers, the Star reports. Frommer said he is confident that the differences will "get worked out." However, Gary Passmore, executive director of the Congress of California Seniors, which supports the creation of a reimportation Web site, said the impasse is "a signal that the problems are deeper than we thought" (Ventura County Star, 8/17).