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Decision Day for Drug Import Bill


Monday, May 7, 2007   

Today the U.S. Senate scheduled a vote on a plan to legalize the import of prescription drugs from other countries, beginning with Canada. Amy McDonough with the Minnesota AARP believes it makes economic and health-sense.

“This is something of great interest to seniors and older Minnesotans in particular, because we know, firsthand, how much cheaper drugs can be from Canada.”

She notes many senior Minnesotans have been going to Canada to buy prescription drugs, because it's worth the time and money. She says they shouldn't have to do that to get life-saving medications.

McDonough says Americans pay too much for medications.

“Prescription drug companies have said that they have very high costs for research and development in the United States. And, United States consumers have been willing to pay those prices because of the life-saving benefits of prescription drugs. Well, from our perspective, the prices are simply too high. Especially for people who can't afford insurance.”

While allowing importation of prescription drugs, the plan could ease the financial pinch for millions of Americans. McDonough adds that Americans also need a good quality control system to insure imported drugs are safe.

Minnesota has been a leader in trying to provide its citizens affordable drugs, and McDonough believes it’s now time to take it to the federal level.

“Gov. Pawlenty created a program that would actually allow seniors to order drugs online that came from Canada. Then they went to Canada, checked out the pharmacies, and made sure that those drugs were safe. They proved that it's do-able. And, with help from the federal government, more people could access the costs that Minnesotans are able to do.”

The vote is on the Dorgan (D-ND) Snowe (R-ME) amendment. AARP says it would lower drug prices, but the drug industry and its supporters plan to add a "poison pill" amendment to maintain the status quo.

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