U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow Tells Panel: Permit Reimportation of Prescription Drugs and Lower Prices for All Americans
At a hearing today on pending legislation to allow reimportation of prescription drugs, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, an established Congressional leader on the issue, told a Senate committee that drugs can be imported safely and at more affordable prices to consumers.
"We can create a safe, fair system that allows pharmacists, patients and providers to use the global marketplace to find the lowest drug prices," said Stabenow, who headed the Senate Prescription Drug Task Force in the 107th Congress and the Democratic Health Care Task Force in the 108th Congress.
Stabenow, whose very first piece of legislation in the Senate in 2001 would have allowed reimportation, has helped lead the Senate to twice pass legislation allowing reimportation, although the U.S. House failed to follow suit. Stabenow is a co-sponsor of the current bill, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act.
"Food and Drug Administration inspectors already go all over the world to inspect manufacturing facilities that will produce drugs that ultimately will be brought into the U.S.," Stabenow said. "I think many Americans would be surprised to learn that their drugs might be from China, India or Slovakia."
Stabenow testified today before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The hearing precedes final markup of legislation that would allow U.S. licensed pharmacies and drug wholesalers to import FDA-approved medications from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and European Union nations.
Today's hearing came in the wake of last week's AARP report saying the price of prescription drugs went up an average of 7.1 percent in 2004, the largest increase in five years and more than twice the rate of inflation.
"These rising drug costs place a huge financial burden on all Americans - senior citizens on fixed incomes, working families without insurance, small businesses with high health plan costs, hospitals struggling to stay afloat, and even cities and states," Stabenow told the committee.
"There is no way that our health system, our citizens and our nation can continue to endure these increases year after year."