U.S. Sen. David Vitter today made the following statement after a vote on his amendment to the U.S. Senate "mini-bus" appropriations bill that would allow Americans to import FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. The vote failed 45 -- 55. In 2009, legislation that was nearly identical passed the Senate 55-36 as part of a Homeland Security appropriations bill.
"In 2009 we passed essentially the exact same legislation with wide bipartisan support," said Vitter. "What happened in the meantime? One thing is certain -- Obamacare passed with heavy influence from Big Pharma since we last voted on reimportation. And Big Pharma was certainly lobbying senators all of this week to oppose my amendment that would provide much cheaper options for prescription drugs."
The following 14 Democrat senators switched their vote from their 2009 position. These senators also later supported passage of Obamacare: Sens. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Max Baucus (Mont.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Richard Durbin (Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Harry Reid (Nev.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Jim Webb (Va.).
The Vitter amendment would have expanded upon previous language he authored and passed that allowed for the physical importation of medications from Canada and would also have allowed Americans to order prescription drugs over the Internet and by mail.
U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) added provisions to the Vitter amendment. Bingaman's provision would keep in place existing FDA "personal use/importation exception" policies to protect the ability of Americans to travel across the border to purchase prescription medications for their own use. Stabenow's provision would set protections for controlled substances and biologic drugs. Specifically, it would limit the ban on FDA funds for preventing drug importation by an individual, so that the ban would not apply in the case of a controlled substance or a biological product.