The Honorable Bill Frist, M.D.
The Capitol, S-230
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Frist:
We are writing to urge you to schedule time to debate and vote on legislation to ensure Americans have access to more affordable, FDA approved drugs from Canada and other highly developed countries.
Today over 40 million Americans lack drug coverage and pay the world's highest prices. This situation not only reduces patients' access to prescription drug therapies, but also contributes to higher health costs for all Americans. Currently, millions of Americans import medications without a federal regulatory system which could ensure safety and efficacy of the practice. That cannot continue.
That is why we introduced bipartisan legislation, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act (S.334). Over two years ago - on May 19, 2004 - most of us met with you to discuss the Senate's consideration of this vital drug importation legislation. At that time, you acknowledged that the Senate must address this issue before adjourning in October 2004. Today, despite the fact that four out of five Americans favor drug importation, that ten related hearings have been held on the subject by five Senate committees since 2004, and that repeated calls for consideration of our bipartisan bill have been made, the full Senate has yet to consider legislation to establish a safe and effective system of drug importation.
We understand you previously stated your willingness to schedule floor time to consider standalone legislation on drug importation, should an amendment supporting importation achieve 60 vote support on the Senate floor. Just this week, a vote of more than two-thirds of the Senate demonstrated such support.
Our legislation has broad bipartisan support. It provides an effective regulatory framework to ensure American consumers market access, and it indisputably addresses the legitimate concerns of the HHS Task Force Report on Prescription Drug Importation by taking multiple steps to ensure the public's safety.
We respectfully ask that you provide time for the full Senate to debate and vote on S.334, prior to the recess of the Senate in September, so that we may at last provide American consumers with improved market access in an environment of safety and efficacy. As the number of legislative days remaining is limited, we would be willing to work with you on specific terms for consideration of this legislation, including a time agreement, to ensure that the Senate may work expeditiously during the remainder of the 109th Congress.
We look forward to your response.
Byron L. Dorgan
Olympia J. Snowe
Edward M. Kennedy