Drug reimportation is back in the headlines.
What brought this issue back to life was the introduction of two identical bills in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to legalize importation of less expensive prescription drugs into the United States.
The fight for affordable drugs in the U.S., where uninsured patients pay the highest prices in the world, has gone on for a long time, with very little result.
A 2004 study by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office found that comparable drugs sold for 35 to 55 per cent less in Canada than in the U.S. The only ones benefiting from this situation have been the drug companies, and Canadian Internet pharmacies, which supply drugs to about three million Americans.
The proposed legislation would allow U.S. licensed pharmacies and wholesalers to import medications from Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
Is it going to happen?
I doubt it.
Last time I was involved with this issue Senator Dorgan told me it was definitely going to happen.
What is different this time around is that Democrats are now controlling both Houses, so the legislation stands a better chance of being passed.
What is not different is that to become law, the new legislation must be approved by President Bush, and he’s made it very clear that he will not sign such legislation.
The issue seems like a no-brainer. But too many people in our government are paid off and will not allow this to happen, no matter how many uninsured Americans are suffering.
There is, however, some hope: Another presidential election is around the corner.
Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Vice President of Pfizer. He became well known in 2004 when he emerged as the first drug company executive to speak out in favor of reimportation of drugs. He is the author of “The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman.” See: http://the-whistleblower-by-peter-rost.blogspot.com/