President Bush Threatens To Veto Bill That Would End FDA Ban on Prescription Drug Reimportation
The White House on Monday said President Bush would veto the final version of the fiscal year 2006 Agriculture appropriations bill (HR 2744) if the legislation includes an amendment that would bar FDA enforcement of a ban on prescription drug reimportation, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 9/19).
The amendment, introduced on Thursday by Sen. David Vitter (R.-La.), would allow FDA to regulate reimportation (Young, The Hill, 9/20). Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also supports the amendment (CQ HealthBeat, 9/19).
The amendment is identical to a bill (HR 328) introduced in the House by Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) in January and a revised version of legislation that Gutknecht sponsored in 2003. The original bill would have allowed U.S. pharmacists to import prescription drugs manufactured in 25 industrialized nations, provided that the medications are manufactured by companies that use counterfeit-resistant technologies and that the companies have registered their production operations with FDA.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in July agreed to hold at least one floor vote on the prescription drug reimportation amendment, and Vitter said that Frist would "work in good faith" to hold a separate debate and vote on the amendment if the measure receives more than 60 votes. Vitter said that the amendment likely would receive 60 votes (American Health Line, 7/28).
The White House Office of Management and Budget said in a Statement of Administration Policy that Bush would "strongly oppose any provision that might be added on the Senate floor regarding the importation of prescription drugs that does not address the very serious safety concerns identified" in December 2004 (CQ HealthBeat, 9/20).
According to The Hill, if the Senate approves the prescription drug reimportation amendment, "it is expected to be stripped out during conference discussions."
In related news, the Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation under which the U.S. trade representative could not enter agreements that would ban prescription drug reimportation (The Hill, 9/20).