Senate Should Approve Bipartisan Bill To Allow Prescription Drug Reimportation, Los Angeles Times Editorial States
Efforts to legalize the reimportation of lower-cost, U.S.-made medications from other nations "gained a second wind" last week with the introduction of a bipartisan Senate bill (S 2328) that would allow the practice, but the legislation "isn't going anywhere" until Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) allow a vote, according to a Los Angeles Times editorial (Los Angeles Times, 4/27). The bill -- sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) -- would allow U.S. residents to reimport as much as a 90-day supply of prescription drugs from FDA-approved Canadian pharmacies for personal use. In addition, U.S. residents who travel to Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland or current European Union nations could return with as much as a 90-day supply of prescription drugs for personal use. After 90 days, the legislation would allow licensed pharmacists and prescription drug wholesalers to reimport medications from Canada. After one year, pharmacists and wholesalers could reimport medication from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland or European Union nations that were members as of Jan. 1, 2003 (California Healthline, 4/22). According to the editorial, the pharmaceutical industry maintains that the bill would allow "unapproved and untraceable medicines to flow" into the United States. However, the editorial states that the pharmaceutical industry "hysterically overstates the danger," adding, "If Canadian consumers aren't getting dangerous drugs from Canadian pharmacies, then there's no reason to assume that U.S. consumers would." According to the editorial, the "risk in letting consumers import drugs from abroad isn't zero," but "it's far lower" than the risk that FDA "routinely considers negligible" (Los Angeles Times, 4/27).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.