Senate Should Refuse To Confirm FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan as CMS Administrator, Editorial States
The Senate should refuse to confirm FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan as CMS administrator until he ends his opposition to prescription drug reimportation as part of an effort to reduce U.S. drug costs, according to a Los Angeles Times editorial (Los Angeles Times, 3/4). At least three senators -- John McCain (R-Ariz.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) -- have announced plans to delay a final confirmation vote on McClellan because of his stance on reimportation. McClellan has said that he opposes the practice because FDA cannot certify the safety of prescription drugs reimported from Canada and other nations (California Healthline, 3/3). As FDA commissioner, McClellan has threatened legal action against state and local governments that establish reimportation programs, asked health insurers to reject reimbursement claims for drugs purchased from Canada and "even tried to enlist UPS and FedEx to stop cross-border purchasing" of prescription drugs, the editorial states. According to the editorial, although McClellan "couldn't single-handedly allow" reimportation as CMS administrator, he "wields great influence and would be able to halt reimportation by, for instance, declaring such drugs unsafe or by cutting off" Medicare and Medicaid funds to states that help residents purchase drugs from Canada. The editorial concludes that the Senate should "press him to reverse his opposition to reimportation," which would serve as a "small step toward lowering outrageously high U.S. drug prices" (Los Angeles Times, 3/4).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.