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Detroit Free Press - Cheaper and safe

Location: Lansing, MI

Detroit Free Press

HEADLINE: Seniors to lose with prescription drug plan

Cheaper and safe

The Nov. 8 letter from Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute in Chicago, contended that reimporting prescription drugs from Canada would make them no cheaper to obtain and would be unsafe ("Safety risks with Canada"). The numbers prove otherwise.

Drugs can be purchased for drastically lower prices in Canada than in the United States. Tamoxifen, a vital drug for breast cancer patients, costs $340 in the United States, $39 in Canada. People who need Zocor to reduce their blood cholesterol levels must pay $130 here, but their Canadian counterparts can buy it for $67.

We don't have to choose between safety and price. My efforts would allow Americans to bring FDA-approved drugs back at cheaper prices. Most of these drugs were manufactured in the United States and already meet strict FDA rules. Drug importation already occurs. When drug companies face a domestic supply shortage, they reimport drugs.

Some drugs such as Lipitor and Viagra are not even produced in the United States, so any supplies of those drugs originally were imported from elsewhere. Any imported drugs, whether originating here or not, were produced in FDA-approved factories.

The legislation I cosponsored includes a variety of effective safety provisions, several of which are more stringent than those already in place. Legalizing reimportation would strengthen the FDA's ability to regulate imported drugs and ensure their safety.

People who have to decide between life-saving drugs and eating every day need lower prices now. The real issue is not safety; it's about standing up to the pharmaceutical lobbies on behalf of our families.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow Lansing

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