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Associated Press - McCain Calls For Drug Reimportation

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Associated Press - McCain Calls For Drug Reimportation

By Philip Elliott, AP
November 17, 2007

Presidential contender Sen. John McCain on Saturday called for the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada as a way to bring health care costs under control.

The Arizona Republican, speaking to reporters about a mile from the Canadian border and just across the river from New Hampshire, said high drug prices account for too much of the cost of health care.

''Drug companies and the lobbyists they pay in Washington want to keep your drug prices high. Obviously, I want them to be affordable,'' McCain said, returning to his criticism of how Washington works.

Until drugs are cheaper, the cost of health care is going to skyrocket and work to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid, he said.

''If we are going to control health care cost, we are need to control the rising costs of pharmaceuticals,'' McCain said.

He said drug prices are 16 to 60 percent cheaper in Canada and are to blame for rising insurance premiums.

''A person taking a standard blood-thinner, the savings could be over $200 a year. If your problem is heartburn, it could be $750. For treating depression, as much as $1,400 a year,'' he said.

McCain noted his rivals do not support drug reimportation programs.

''It's a strawman to say that a country like Canada could not be responsible for safe drugs to be brought into our country. Many of them are manufactured in Canada, as you know,'' he said.

McCain said he would be open to bringing in drugs from any country with the proper safeguards.

''I would reimport them from any country in the world as long as you have the proper process. In Canada, we already do. In Mexico, we do not,'' he said. ''My friends, we have the best pharmaceuticals in the world. ... Obviously, they cost too much because of the influence, in my view, of the pharmaceutical companies in Washington, D.C.''

Saturday was the second day of McCain's four-day bus tour of northern New Hampshire.

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