Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton Regarding the Senate's Action to Undermine Proposed Prescription Drug Reimportation Legislation
"Yesterday, the Senate voted to add the provisions of Senator Dorgan and Snowe's Pharmaceutical Access and Drug Safety Act, legislation I am proud to cosponsor, to S. 1082, the Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act. The amendment would establish the framework through which we could reimport drugs from other nations where regulatory authority is similar to that in our country, allowing millions of Americans to safely obtain medically necessary drugs at lower cost. I voted for this amendment, and was disappointed to see its provisions undermined.
Americans pay higher prices for the exact same prescription drugs being taken by their counterparts in Canada and Europe. The Congressional Budget Office has found that prices for brand name prescription drugs are 35-55 percent higher in the United States, but that adoption of the reimportation legislation I support would save consumers $50 billion in just the next ten years.
This price disparity affects millions of Americans. Our seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes, end up spending larger portions of their income on drugs, especially when falling into the "doughnut hole" or wrestling with other gaps in a Medicare Part D benefit. And this isn't only a problem for seniors - we have 46 million uninsured individuals in our country, many of whom are unable to afford prescription drugs. Without these drugs, manageable chronic conditions, like asthma or high blood pressure, spiral out of control into serious health problems.
The Dorgan-Snowe amendment contains many provisions that will ensure safety while giving Americans access to cheaper drugs. This bipartisan provision will allow Americans to safely access drugs from Canada starting 90 days after enactment. It will provide the needed authority and funding to the FDA to regulate foreign pharmacies and wholesalers, so that we can be sure that any drugs that enter the United States are safe for our citizens. And it will increase the consumer protections involved with internet pharmacies, so that people who don't live near the border can access imported drugs without being defrauded.
Opponents of reimportation amended the underlying Dorgan-Snowe bill to require the Secretary to certify that importation is safe - a certification that is unnecessary, and so vaguely worded as to be impossible to meet. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office reports that the $50 billion in savings from reimportation legislation will be eliminated through this certification provision. Within the framework set up by the Dorgan-Snowe legislation, only FDA-approved drugs would be imported, and measures to ensure additional safety, such as the use of tamper-resistant and anti-counterfeit packaging, as well as tracking and tracing technologies, would be implemented.
We need to make drug reimportation safe, we need to make drug reimportation unambiguously legal, and we need to do so as quickly as possible. The Pharmaceutical Access and Drug Safety Act would allow us to do all of those things, and I will continue to work to ensure that Americans can obtain affordable and safe prescription drug medications from Canada."