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Expand Access to Medicine from Abroad

Location: Washington, DC

EXPAND ACCESS TO MEDICINE FROM ABROAD -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 22, 2004)


Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, although the pharmaceutical industry and the supporters of the Republican prescription drug plan may disagree, Americans have a right to affordable medicine! That is why so many continue to ask Congress to take action, such as allowing the importation of safe prescription drugs from abroad.

The residents of Calexico, El Centro, San Ysidro, Chula Vista and other border communities join in that call, but in the meantime many are already going to Mexico to buy up to a 90-day supply of prescription drugs for personal use.
They purchase medicines in Mexico because the pharmaceutical companies continue to gouge them at home.

Yet the Senate's Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act, which takes the important step of permitting importation from Canada and Europe, would reduce the 90-day cap on personal use medicine from Mexico to a 14-day supply.

It is inconsistent to increase access to Canadian and European prescription drugs while decreasing access to safe medicine from Mexico. It is unfair to low-income seniors who rely on these life-enhancing-and often life-saving-medications.

The supporters of the bill may have reservations about the safety of medicine from Mexico. This is a valid issue to raise. Yet the FDA has not provided convincing evidence that the importation of inexpensive drugs from Mexico has resulted in health problems. If the authors of the bill were convinced that medicines from Mexico were in fact dangerous, why would they allow even a 14-day supply?

The fact is seniors in my district have found these medicines to be a safe, affordable and accessible alternative to their local pharmacies. That is why I call on my colleagues in the Senate to oppose this legislation as it is currently written and ensure that communities on the U.S-Mexico border have access to affordable drugs.

The availability of inexpensive medicine is such an important issue at the border because many senior citizens and other residents of these communities have low-incomes and no insurance.

The U.S.-Mexico Border Commission reports that if the border region were the Nation's 51st state, it would rank: Last in the percentage of insured residents, last in per capita income, last in access to care, first in unemployed; and first in
the number of school children living in poverty.

We must move forward in boosting the health of our border communities and increasing the availability of safe and inexpensive medicines, rather than moving backward and placing new restricts on access to prescription drugs from Mexico.

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