SHOW: MARKET CALL 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
HEADLINE: Tough Call: Should Congress Allow Importation Of Prescriptions From Canada?, CNNfn
GUESTS: Debbie Stabenow, Michael Naylor, Robert Cihak
BYLINE: Rhonda Schaffler
RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNNfn ANCHOR, MARKET CALL: The White House calls it dangerous legislation, and despite solid support in the House, a bill that would allow re-importation of prescription drugs from foreign suppliers faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The FDA says the bill would create a wide channel for potentially dangerous drugs to enter the U.S.
Let's find out what one of the bill's bakers in the Senate has to say. Senator Debbie Stabenow joins us from Capitol Hill.
Senator, thanks for spending time with us on MARKET CALL.
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D) MICHIGAN: Well, good morning, Rhonda.
SCHAFFLER: First, let's talk about the odds of this legislation getting through the Senate. What needs to be done to lobby over some of the nay- sayers at this point?
STABENOW: I think the most important issue is going through why this is safe to do and what the real issue is, which is an industry that doesn't want competition. They fight every effort. They use patent loopholes to block generic drugs from going on the market. They, right now, have an advantage by having the border shut so Americans, who subsidize drugs that are sold around the world, pay the highest prices for them.
And we know that every American business who is seeing their health care cost skyrocket is paying that price, every worker, every family. So we have to debunk this whole question of safety.
Right now, pharmaceutical companies themselves bring pharmaceutical drugs back and forth across the border every day. And I'm particularly focused on Canada, where I think we should start because their system is very much like ours. They have a closed supply chain. The FDA works with the companies right now to make sure that there's a closed supply chain when they bring these drugs back into the United States.
All we're saying is let the local pharmacists, let the pharmacists in the drugstore, let the licensed pharmacist at the hospital or at the medical school, be able to have the same ability to do business with Canada or other countries, where we know there are safety provisions that will protect American consumers. And let us bring back these lower prices.
Right now in Canada - and in Michigan, it's five minutes across the bridge - you can lower your prices in half on drugs made in America that are subsidized by American consumers. It's not fair, and I don't blame - I mean, the industry has a tremendous advantage right now by shutting off competition, and I understand they're fighting it.
SCHAFFLER: Senator, I don't mean to interrupt, but we're almost out of time. I wanted to ask you one other important question, because another issue out there with the price argument is that companies need higher prices for research and development to develop drugs that will keep people healthier down the line somewhere. Is that a myth as well?
STABENOW: That's absolutely a myth. Right now, the companies are spending two and a half times more on advertising, marketing and administration than they are on research. We need new life-saving drugs. But the majority of patents given out in the last five years weren't for new life-saving drugs. They were for slight changes that keep the patent going to stop competition.
We are paying a heavy price in this country. Medicine's not optional. It's life-saving for too many of our people. We've got to bring that price down.
SCHAFFLER: Senator Debbie Stabenow - thanks for joining us from Capitol Hill. We appreciate it.
STABENOW: Thank you.