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Public Statements

Issue Position: Prescription Drugs

Issue Position

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Issue Position: Prescription Drugs

Summary

Americans are forced to pay some of the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Escalating drug costs have a particularly detrimental impact on America's seniors, who deserve better than the recently enacted Medicare drug law - a bill that has produced headaches for seniors but will generate huge profits for HMOs and insurance companies.

Americans deserve real prescription drug relief that will lower the cost of medicine instead of forcing them to pay more for Medicare or join an HMO. Real prescription drug relief involves allowing the U.S. government to use Medicare's purchasing power to drive down costs for seniors. This effective and successful mechanism is currently employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, the Medicare drug bill prohibited the government from negotiating lower prices on behalf of beneficiaries.

In addition to using Medicare's bargaining power, we can reduce drug costs by legalizing the reimportation of safe, cheaper prescription drugs available on the world market. Allowing pharmacies, wholesalers and individual consumers to import FDA-approved medicines from Canada and other industrialized countries would significantly lower prescription drug bills for all Americans.

Key Facts

• American consumers pay the highest drug prices in the world. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that brand-name drugs cost, on average, 35 percent to 55 percent less in other industrialized countries than they do in the U.S.

• Prescription drugs represent the largest source of out-of-pocket medical costs for senior citizens.

• Prices for the medications most used by seniors are growing at three times the general rate of inflation.

• More than $40 billion of the prescription drugs consumed by Americans in 2002 were manufactured in other countries and imported to the United States. Pharmaceutical companies produce many of their drugs in FDA-approved plants outside the country, and then import them for sale in the U.S. If importation is safe and effective for drug companies, it can be for consumers as well


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