Senate Accepts Vitter Reimportation Amendment to LHHSE Appropriations Bill
The U.S. Senate yesterday adopted U.S. Sen. David Vitter's drug reimportation amendment to the U.S. Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill. The amendment prohibits anti-reimportation activities within HHS and is similar to another amendment Vitter secured to the U.S. Senate Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill earlier this year. Vitter directed this amendment specifically to HHS, which began an anti-reimportation task force in 2004 and continues to take the lead in coordinating government-wide policy prohibiting Canadian drug reimportation, to bring these coordinated, multi-agency efforts to a halt.
"This provision prevents HHS officials from blocking hard working Americans from bringing back prescribed medication from Canada and will help bring more affordable prescription drugs to residents of Louisiana," Vitter said. "I thank Sens. Harkin and Specter for their help including this amendment in the Senate bill and for their promise to work for its inclusion in the final conference report."
Vitter's amendment would also allow mail order and Internet importation.
Vitter also spoke today with U.S. Rep. David Obey, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Labor Health Human Services and Education Committee, and Obey also indicated that his willingness to include the amendment in the final conference report on the bill.
In 2004, then HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson appointed an HHS Task Force on Drug Importation, and that taskforce issued a report against reimportation.
"The inclusion of this amendment sends a clear message to HHS to stop obstructing the reimportation of prescription drugs," Vitter said.
Under current law drug reimportation is legal if the secretary of Health and Human Services certifies that the practice is safe, but the president's administration has not yet done so.
"The support for drug reimportation continues to build even as the big drug lobby continues to ratchet up pressure against it," added Vitter. "The federal government should not be using American taxpayer dollars to proactively prevent seniors or any citizen from purchasing safe, cheaper drugs for themselves from Canada - including over the internet or through mail order."
Last year Vitter secured an amendment to the U.S Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill that prohibited the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol from seizing legal prescription drugs from American citizens crossing the border returning from Canada. He has also authored a bill that provides for more comprehensive drug reimportation policy.