For too long, the pharmaceutical industry has blocked American consumers from obtaining lower-price prescription drugs from abroad. One of the results is Americans pay the highest prices for brand name prescription drugs in the world.
With 45 million Americans uninsured and countless numbers underinsured, all too often people do not fill their prescriptions because they cannot afford to do so.
The U.S. Senate took the first step this month toward making prescription drugs more affordable by moving forward with an AARP-endorsed amendment that would allow for the safe and legal importation of lower-priced drugs from abroad.
The bipartisan amendment, introduced by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), would legalize the importation of FDA-approved drugs from certain countries beginning with Canada, impose strict safety standards to prevent drug counterfeiting, and include important provisions to prevent potential trade obstructions.
Unfortunately, in a move backed by the drug industry designed to block the Dorgan-Snowe measure, opponents are trying to add language prohibiting importation of prescription drugs unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify that it is “safe” to do so.
Despite the fact that safety provisions are already built into the bill, this provision is designed to give unnecessary discretion to the Secretary to block importation. A vote for this language is a vote to maintain the status quo, and AARP urges Sen. Mary Landrieu to oppose this roadblock to importation.
AARP members are counting on their Senators to support legislation that will lower prescription drug prices, and allowing the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs is a good start. They have also expressed strong interest in knowing how their elected officials vote on key issues that affect older Americans.
As part of our ongoing effort to let our members know of action taken on key issues, AARP will be informing them how their senators vote on the importation amendments.
State Director, AARP