U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) Thursday won approval by the full Senate Commerce Committee for their plan to allow re-importation of lower priced prescription drugs. The lawmakers added the bill as an amendment to the legislation reauthorizing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), according to a press release.
The amendment is similar to bipartisan prescription drug importation legislation by Dorgan and Snowe, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act (S. 334). The Commerce Committee passed the amendment by a vote of 14 to 8.
The Committee also adopted, without objection, a package of three second-degree amendments offered by Senator Vitter (R-La.) to the Dorgan-Snowe amendment. ( Vitter's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.)
�Today�s action makes clear there is strong, bi-partisan support for this legislation in the Senate,� Senator Dorgan said after the committee�s vote. �U.S. consumers are charged the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and it is unfair. Our goal is to put downward pressure on drug prices.�
�Today�s action by the Commerce Committee is a great step forward,� said Snowe. �I joined Senator Dorgan in introducing this amendment because people across this great nation want safe access to affordable prescription drugs. Despite broad recognition of the need - despite six years of legislative efforts - our constituents continue to wait for the federal government to act. Many Americans have lost patience leaving nearly half the states across the country with no choice but to consider implementing their own drug importation programs, including my own great state of Maine. But this is a federal issue, and that is why there has been bipartisan support in Congress to pass legislation to ensure safe access to affordable medicines.�
The Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act would allow individuals to directly order medications from outside the U.S. when using a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-registered and approved Canadian pharmacy. FDA would examine, register and inspect these facilities on a frequent basis. FDA would also ensure the highest standards for such essential functions as recording medical history, verifying prescriptions, and tracking shipments. It would also allow U.S. licensed pharmacists and wholesalers to import FDA-approved medications from a number of major industrialized nations and pass along the savings to their customers.