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Statement on H.R. 1919, The Safeguarding America's Pharmaceuticals Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express concerns about a provision in H.R. 1919, the Safeguarding America's Pharmaceuticals Act of 2013, raised by a large employer in my district. The legislation passed by voice vote, and like many of my colleagues I support the overall goal and intent of this legislation: namely, to protect more Americans from counterfeit pharmaceuticals. However, I have reservations about certain sections of the bill due to concerns raised in my Congressional District that I hope might be addressed if further action is taken in the Senate.

Section 8 of H.R. 1919 includes language addressing the use of electronic labeling for pharmaceutical drugs, meaning that important consumer information related to usage, side effects and other issues may in some instances be available only over the internet unless a customer specifically asks for drug-related instructions in writing. I remain concerned about the possible effect these provisions will have on seniors and in communities that are underserved or un-served entirely by broadband internet. This legislation if passed in its current form may create a scenario where a customer who shops at a pharmacy that uses the electronic system will be left without critical drug information unless they think to ask for it themselves. For many, this will leave them in the dark about important, potentially life-saving information.

As a representative for a rural community where broadband internet is unavailable in many areas, this presents a real concern. I ask that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress reconsider these provisions should the Senate take action on the bill.

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