U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) yesterday joined with Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and John McCain (R-AZ) to introduce critical drug importation legislation that will reduce the cost of prescription drugs in the United States. The "Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act," will bring consumers immediate relief by lowering drug prices in the United States. The bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 25 Senators. The legislation comes at a time when the President and Secretary of Health and Human Services-nominee have both expressed support for drug importation.
"For too long, Michigan families have been forced to cross into Canada to purchase FDA-approved drugs at a fraction of the cost," said Stabenow. "And now, after fighting for nearly a decade, we finally have a President in the White House who has expressed his strong support to import safe, affordable prescription drugs. This legislation does just that, by allowing pharmacists across Michigan to do business with Canada and other industrialized nations, so they can offer customers medicine at the best prices."
President Obama signaled support for this legislation, stating in the 2010 Budget proposal, "The Budget supports the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) new efforts to allow Americans to buy safe and effective drugs from other countries " The President's new HHS Secretary nominee, Governor Kathleen Sebelius, joined a multi-state drug importation program when she was Governor of Kansas. The legislation had over 30 Senate co-sponsors in the last session of Congress, including President Obama and Senator John McCain.
The bill allows U.S.-licensed pharmacies and drug wholesalers to import FDA-approved medications from Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan and pass along the savings to their American customers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would save American consumers $50 billion over the next decade, including more than $10 billion in federal government savings.
This approach will allow Americans to benefit from prices in these countries, which are 35 to 55 percent lower than in the U.S., while still enabling consumers to receive medications at their local pharmacy. The legislation would also allow individual consumers to purchase prescription drugs for their own personal use from safe, reliable, FDA-inspected Canadian pharmacies.
The legislation contains strong safeguards to prohibit drug counterfeiting or any other practices that would put the consumer at risk, and applies only to FDA-approved prescription drugs produced in FDA-approved plants from countries with comparable safety standards.
The following Senators are original cosponsors of the bill: Stabenow, Snowe, Grassley, McCain, Begich, Bingaman, Brown, Conrad, Johnson, Kerry, Kohl, Levin, Bill Nelson, Sanders, Casey, Durbin, Feingold, Inouye, Kennedy, Leahy, McCaskill, Tester, Collins and Thune.