Despite Furious Lobbying
Effort, House OKs Importation of Lower-Cost Drugs
When the House approved legislation early Friday (July 25th)
allowing Americans to purchase prescription medicine abroad,
the vote marked a defeat for the pharmaceutical industry, which
spends millions lobbying Congress, and was repeatedly criticized
by lawmakers in both parties for putting profits ahead of
patients. Drug-industry subsidized lawmakers tried desperately
to pit the controversy as a question of safety - to fend off
peoples' hopes of lower prices against the fear of counterfeit
"The country is going to be flooded with unsafe pharmaceutical
counterfeits, over-age pharmaceuticals, pharmaceuticals that
don't preserve and protect the safety of our citizens,"
countered Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who has long
worked on drug issues. And FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan said
the measure "creates a wide channel for large volumes of
unapproved drugs and other products to enter the United States
that are potentially injurious to public health and pose a
threat to the security of our nation's drug supply."
"It's not about safety,
it's about money," said conservative Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.,
practically hissing the word.
"There's a woman ... who's dying
of breast cancer," he added. "... How do you tell her when she
goes to buy tamoxifen that she can't afford it but she could go
right across the border to Canada and get it for one sixth or
one seventh the cost."
The vote (243-186) capped an emotional debate, supporters
repeatedly referring to cancer victims who must pay more for
medicine at home than they would in Canada or Germany, and
opponents warning of drugs that look legitimate, but are
worthless, or even hazardous.
Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht of Minnesota held up two packages
of the drug tamoxifen, used to combat breast cancer. "Why is it
that Americans have to spend $260 for this life-saving drug when
Germans can buy it for $60," he said.
But Rep. W.J. Tauzin, R-La., countered by showing the website of
a Canadian prescription drug house. He said FDA officials had
purchased anti-seizure medication from the company, but found it
was made in India, not Canada. "It is water inside this
package," he said.
The measure had wide appeal to consumers - thousands of whom
have ridden in buses to Canada in recent years to buy lower-cost
drugs. And several lawmakers accused the drug industry of merely
trying to protect its own profits. Liberal Rep. Bernard Sanders,
I-Vt., said it had spread "lies, lies, and lies again" in an
effort to kill the bill.
FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL
"We do believe there is a safety problem," said Mark Grayson, a
spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
America, known as PhRMA. He also said the legislation would
import the system of price controls that foreign government
impose on drugs. He said he didn't know how much the group was
spending to defeat the bill, adding, "We don't discuss that."
The pharmaceutical industry made more than $20 million in
political contributions in the past election, with roughly $8 of
every $10 going to Republicans, according to analysis by the
Center for Responsive Politics.
PhRMA itself gave more than $3 million and spent more than $14
million lobbying Congress on various issues last year. In
addition, the organization gave millions last year to a group
that aired television commercials on behalf of candidates who
backed a GOP-written prescription drug bill.
(To learn the truth about the
'safety' issue, read
Current predictions are that the bill will be killed in the
Senate - or, if passed - vetoed by president Bush. if you want
low-cost drugs made available by legislative action, here's your
chance to help.
A massive Internet e-mail campaign is what has brought us this
Here is a letter to send your Senator - to find the address,
check out the registry at
The Honorable Senator___________
Washington, D.C. 20510
The crisis of costly healthcare can be mitigated if Americans
are allowed to import lower-priced, identical FDA approved drugs
from other countries. On July 25, the House passed the
Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003 (H.R.2427) by a margin
of 243 to 186. This bill has strict safety standards in place
that will ensure imported prescription drugs as safe as those I
buy from my local pharmacy.
This prescription drug importation bill will soon be
introduced in the Senate. I insist that you put your full
support behind it, despite the intensive and deceptive lobbying
efforts you will encounter.
This is my first letter to notify you how important this
issue is to me. I understand that the Senate may be voting on
this in September, and I will write you again to encourage you
to vote for the Senate version of this House bill that will
enable Americans to access lower-priced medications that have
similar safety standards of this country from other countries.
Please let me know what your position on this drug import
bill is now, as I would welcome the opportunity to clarify why
it is so important that this bill pass the Senate as well.
City: ST ZIP
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