DRUG REIMPORTATION: Senate Passes Agriculture Bill
The Senate yesterday voted 86-8 to pass the Agriculture appropriations conference report, which contains an amendment to establish a prescription drug reimportation program. Clinton has "signaled" that he will likely sign the bill (CongressDaily/A.M., 10/19). The House last week passed the reimportation measure despite Democratic members' reservations that Republicans weakened the bill. The reimportation legislation would permit pharmacists and wholesalers to import FDA-approved prescription drugs from countries where those drugs are offered at significantly lower prices than in the United States. However, congressional Democrats and the White House say the legislation contains loopholes that may allow drug companies to sidestep compliance ( California Healthline, 10/12). Senate Democrats "continued to criticize" the bill yesterday, saying that the reimportation provision "provides cover for Republicans on drugs." Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, "This bill is a charade ... a fig leaf for a Republican leadership desperate to hide the fact that they have done nothing this year to provide an affordable prescription drug benefit for seniors." Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) added, "This is not even a fig leaf. It is a worse sham than when it left (the Senate). This is sort of a 'Son of Sham' or a double sham" (CongressDaily/A.M., 10/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.