U.S. Senator David Vitter spoke on the Senate floor today criticizing the recently discovered deal the White House made with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) to kill any prescription drug reimportation legislation. Vitter's remarks come in response to emails recently released that reveal communication between the White House and the pharmaceutical industry during the 2009 healthcare debate. The White House ultimately agreed to block proposals that would allow importation of cheaper prescription drugs from abroad at the request of PhRMA. PhRMA is the lobbying arm of the big pharmaceutical industry and of has long viewed reimportation of cheaper drugs as a threat.
"These emails are proof that there was clearly a deal between the White House and big PhRMA to kill reimportation," Vitter said. "Reimportation would allow Americans, especially our seniors, to get cheaper prescription drugs, but President Obama agreed to block it just to gain PhRMA's financial support for Obamacare. This is an outrage and exactly the type of backroom deal-making that gave us this disastrous healthcare law. Worse, then-Sen. Obama co-sponsored a reimportation bill in 2006 and voted for my legislation in 2007 and 2008."
Vitter, who has been the leader in the Senate for reimportation, successfully helped pass bipartisan legislation in 2007 that made it easier for Americans to bring legal prescription drugs into the United States. Then in 2008, Vitter secured a vote demanding the need for comprehensive reimportation legislation. In 2009, Vitter secured provisions in the Senate to an appropriations bill allowing U.S. citizens to import FDA-approved drugs at a lower cost from Canada. In October 2011, Vitter introduced legislation, almost identical to the 2009 amendment that previously passed the Senate, and 14 Democrats switched their votes from their position before the Obamacare debate.