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Stabenow: Bipartisan Legislation Signals Growing Bi-partisan Effort to Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable for Seniors, Veterans, Businesses

Location: Washington, DC

Stabenow: Bipartisan Legislation Signals Growing Bi-partisan Effort to Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable for Seniors, Veterans, Businesses

Measure is introduced as administration proposes increasing costs of prescription drugs for veterans

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and an increasing number of Democratic and Republican senators have come together to knock down the barriers that prevent the reimportation of safe and lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. Recognizing the need to lower prices for prescription drugs, a major contributor to the skyrocketing costs of health care, Stabenow was joined by a number of her colleagues at a news conference today.

"Americans are paying far too much for the prescription drugs they need," said Stabenow, "I'm pleased that more of my Senate colleagues are joining me to support this common sense legislation," she continued, "but I want to urge every one of my colleagues to join us in the fight to make FDA-approved, low cost prescription drugs available to every American. It's time we come together and pass this legislation," said Stabenow, one of the bill's authors.

Introduced as the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act, the bill allows U.S. licensed pharmacies and drug wholesalers to import Food and Drug Administration-approved medications from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and European Union nations. It also allows consumers to import prescription drugs directly for their own use from FDA-approved Canadian pharmacies, until a safe chain-of-custody supply link can be established.

"This legislation has become even more important for our veterans, who would be penalized with a reduction in their veterans' benefits and increased prescription drug costs under the budget proposed by the Administration this week."

Stabenow said the bill - in its current form and as introduced last year - addresses the concerns that have been raised about the safety of reimported drugs. "This is a plan based on FDA-approved drugs and FDA-approved sources, and it establishes a closed supply chain for these drugs, she said. "This bill will aid and protect seniors, veterans, and others who will use reimported prescription drugs."

A recent comparison of prices between the U.S. and Canada reveals that the commonly prescribed drug Prevacid costs 50 percent less in Canada, Zocor, 46 percent less and Lipitor, 40 percent less.

Since 2002 the Senate has twice approved Stabenow-supported version of bills that would allow reimportation, but final passage was blocked by the House and the administration. The administration and Republican leadership also won passage of legislation prohibiting the federal government from using its bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices in Medicare, a major contributor to the $1 trillion-plus estimate of Medicare prescription drug costs made public today.

Stabenow also highlighted the urgent need to give the Federal Government the power to negotiate the lowest prices for prescription drugs in an effort to control skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. "Today's news about the high costs of implementing the Administration's prescription drug benefit again makes it clear that we need to give Medicare the ability to use the market power of all of its members to secure the lowest prices possible," Stabenow said. "Medicare needs this authority, and we need reimportation, to ensure that every American can afford their prescription drugs."

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