Bush against cheaper drugs

July 1, 1993

Bush against cheaper drugs

By Joe Baker, Senior Editor

The “compassionate conservatives,” the Bush administration, have struck again. This time the attack hits senior citizens.

The pill the administration wants to avoid swallowing is the U.S. Senate vote 62-28 in favor of a bill that would allow pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada and sell them in this country.

Senators overwhelmingly support the senior population and want them to benefit from lower Canadian drug prices.

Intervention magazine quoted Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.: “The U.S. consumer pays the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. We should and must put some downward pressure on drug prices,” he said.

The Democrat-sponsored legislation would ease the burden on older Americans living on fixed incomes. In many cases, they face a choice between food and medicine due to costs.

President Bush and his administration have claimed sympathy for seniors and made public vows to help them, but the Bush regime has opposed the Senate bill, and the president has said he will veto it.

Bush claims it is a matter of national security and the war on terrorism. The administration claims importing drugs would give terrorists an opportunity to strike at U.S. citizens through contamination of the products.

Democrats charge the administration is favoring the pharmaceutical industry’s outrageous profits over the critical needs of senior citizens.

“The reason the Republicans won’t allow cheaper drugs from Canada,” said a Washington lobbyist who insists on anonymity, “is because the pharmaceutical companies make huge financial contributions to their election campaigns. It’s as simple as being bought off.”

Lawmakers have tried for years to ease the strict rules against drug imports unless the manufacturer gives consent. Republicans usually favor a free market, but on this matter they are trying to halt the free flow of products.

This is the second time in a year that the Senate has voted to permit imported drugs from Canada. The House also supported a similar measure.

“In both chambers,” the lobbyist said, “many Republicans vote to allow the importation of Canadian drugs to cover themselves politically, while knowing the Bush administration will reject the bill.”

Mark McClellan, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told the Senate in a letter that his agency “cannot guarantee the safety of Canadian drugs.” He said allowing them into the country would create “a wide inlet for counterfeit drugs and other dangerous products that are potentially injurious to the public health.”

The Congressional Research Service reported that the approval process for prescription drugs in Canada is much the same as in the United States.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, opposed the plan to import cheaper drugs.

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