Sacramento Bee Opinion Pieces Address Reimportation Legislation
Two Sacramento Bee opinion pieces on Friday addressed a package of bills to address prescription drug prices that is currently under consideration by the Legislature, including AB 1957, which would create a state Web site to help residents purchase lower-cost, U.S.-made prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies. Under the bill, sponsored by Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale), the Department of Health Services would develop a Web site by July 1, 2005, that would list prices in California and Canada for the 50 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs. The site also would include links to Canadian pharmacies licensed by a Canadian province, meet state pharmacy standards and sell only medications approved by the Therapeutic Products Directorate of Health Canada. In addition, the bill would require the state to post a warning to consumers about foreign pharmacies that have records of selling counterfeit drugs and engaging in other illegal sales practices (California Healthline, 5/27). Summaries of the opinion pieces appear below.
- Ramon Castellblanch, Sacramento Bee: The "soaring price" of prescription drugs is a "growing dange[r]" to state residents that can become "life-threatening" by keeping patients from filling prescriptions or encouraging them to skip doses, Castellblanch, an assistant professor of health education at San Francisco State University, writes in a Bee opinion piece. AB 1957 and other bills addressing prescription drug prices that are currently before the Legislature could provide "promising" help, but regulators also need to start "cracking down" on "high-pressure industry tactics pushing high-cost medicines," Castellblanch writes. "We will soon learn just how concerned each legislator and, eventually, the governor are about assuring Californians' access to life-saving medicines," he concludes (Castellblanch, Sacramento Bee, 6/4).
- Merrill Jacobs, Sacramento Bee: Legislation that would allow reimporatation "propels California down a slippery slope" that "undermines strict, federally enforced [prescription drug] standards" and would allow residents to "gambl[e] with their health," Jacobs, deputy vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, writes in a Bee opinion piece. According to Jacobs, the "real problem" with reimportation is that it will cause an increase in trafficking of counterfeit and contaminated prescription drugs that go through Canada from countries such as Iran and South Africa. Jacobs concludes that patients can receive safe, low-cost drugs by signing up for drug companies' discount programs, as well as the new discount drug card plans and other provisions of the new Medicare law (Jacobs, Sacramento Bee, 6/4).
KQED's "The California Report" on Wednesday reported on AB 1957 and AB 1958, which "collide" with federal laws. The segment includes comments from Jerry Flanagan, health care director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, who is calling on Schwarzenegger to refund nearly $560,000 in pharmaceutical industry contributions or pledge support for the bills (Margolis, "The California Report," KQED, 6/2). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.