U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) announced today they have introduced legislation to allow the reimportation of safe prescription drugs to lower the cost of medicines for consumers in the United States. The "Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act" is cosponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 19 Senators.
"For years, Michigan families have been forced to pay outrageous costs or cross into Canada to get reasonably priced prescriptions. The fact that the exact same FDA-approved drugs are a fraction of the price in Ontario defies common sense," said Sen. Stabenow. "Our bill allows Michigan pharmacists to do business with Canada and other industrialized nations so they can offer customers the exact same medicines at the best prices. I am pleased to be working with Senator Snowe as we try to secure a bipartisan solution this problem."
"It is simply indisputable that Americans pay far too much for prescription drugs, when other countries pay 35-55 percent less" said Senator Snowe. "When nations institute safe, regulated trade in pharmaceuticals they see results - as Sweden did when it entered the European system of trade and saw a reduction of 12-19 percent in the price of traded drugs. Negotiating concessions is no substitute for instilling market competition - which is exactly what this legislation will do."
The bill allows U.S.-licensed pharmacies and drug wholesalers to import FDA-approved medications from countries with tough safety standards, such as Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and pass along the savings to their American customers. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that a similar bill introduced last Congress would save $19.4 billion for federal taxpayers.
This approach will allow Americans access to more affordable drugs from these countries, which are 35 to 55 percent lower than in the U.S., while still enabling consumers to get their 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 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, Bingaman, Brown (OH), Johnson, Shaheen, Kerry, Kohl, Levin, Sanders, Leahy, Klobuchar, Collins, Nelson (FL), Begich, McCain, McCaskill, and Vitter.