Senators Introduce Bill To Allow Importation of Prescription Drugs From 25 Industrialized Nations
Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on Wednesday "quietly" introduced a bill (S 2137) that would allow the importation of lower-cost, FDA-approved prescription drugs from 25 industrialized nations, The Hill reports. The legislation is identical to a bill (HR 2427) passed by the House last July (Cusack, The Hill, 3/2). The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.), would allow U.S. pharmacists to import prescription drugs manufactured in a number of 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 (California Healthline, 7/30/03). The senators introduced their bill with "little fanfare" and without a press conference, press release or Senate floor speech, a move that "seems to be part of the strategy" to pass the legislation, The Hill reports. Dorgan sent the bill to the Senate desk rather than the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over prescription drug importation legislation, because committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) in the past has refused to move such bills. In response, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) objected to the bill, an action that moved the legislation from the Senate desk to the calendar, where "it can be called up at any time for a vote if it is determined to be germane to legislation on the Senate floor," The Hill reports (The Hill, 3/2).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.