Schwarzenegger Calls for Federal Action on Reimportation
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday will send a letter to congressional leaders calling for federal action to permit U.S. residents to reimport prescription drugs, the Los Angeles Times reports (Halper/Rau, Los Angeles Times, 1/3).
"Drug prices continue to escalate, and there is no evidence that the federal government has been able to bring more equity to the global pharmaceutical marketplace," Schwarzenegger wrote in the letter, which he released on Monday (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/3). "The Congress must act to allow Americans to import safe prescription drugs," the letter states.
Schwarzenegger in 2004 vetoed four bills addressing the reimportation of prescription drugs, including a bill that would have required the state to establish a Web site to direct state residents to Canadian pharmacies and a bill that would have permitted the state to consider importing drugs for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation in 2005, saying that state legislation permitting reimportation could "expose the state to potential tort liability and potentially jeopardize patient safety."
Schwarzenegger administration officials said the governor would discuss the letter in his state of the state address on Thursday (Los Angeles Times, 1/3).
Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) in a statement said, "While I appreciate the governor's election-year interest in joining our efforts to make prescription drugs more affordable, the governor's letter looks like a publicity stunt to paint over his repeated vetoes that would have saved Californians 40% to 75% on prescription drugs."
Anthony Wright, director of the consumer group Health Access, said the letter is a "reiteration" of Schwarzenegger's earlier statements on reimportation.
Schwarzenegger spokesperson Margita Thompson said, "We need to ensure that we do what is right, what is legal, what is affordable and, most importantly, what is safe" (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 1/3).
Casey Young, a lobbyist for the California AARP, said, "Clearly (the letter) is a step in the right direction," adding, "The solution to this particular issue rests on the federal level" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/3).
Wanda Moebius, a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, declined to comment, saying her organization had not reviewed the letter (Sacramento Bee, 1/3).