Senator Carl Levin responds to one of our Clients regarding Importation from Canada
August 19th, 2011 by Warren Armstrong
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A client of ours, whom we have been serving for three years, recently wrote to Senator Carl Levin regarding his view on prescription importation from Canada.
Senator Levin (D, Michigan) has been a strong supporter of US citizens and in seeking to reduce health care costs. His comments, which I am given permission to share below, provide an excellent outline of how he is supporting importation.
From: Senator Carl Levin
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:28 AM
Subject: Re: Your Concerns
|Dear : Thank you for contacting me regarding the rising cost of prescription medication. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue. I believe Congress has the responsibility to work to improve access to affordable prescription medication and to strengthen the Medicare prescription drug benefit.A number of bills have been introduced this Congress that seek to address the rising cost of prescription medicine. The Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act (S.27), which was introduced by Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) on January 25, 2011, seeks to increase the accessibility of generic pharmaceutical drugs. It responds to concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that “some brand name pharmaceutical manufacturers collude with generic drug manufacturers to delay the marketing of competing, low-cost, generic drugs.” The FTC found that many settlements between pharmaceutical manufacturers and generic companies “included a pay-off from the brand name manufacturer in exchange for a promise from the generic company to delay entry into the market.” To address these concerns, this bill would prohibit anticompetitive agreements involving payments to generic companies where the generic company agrees to delay the product’s entry into the market. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for further consideration.
A second way to reduce drug costs is to strengthen the Medicare prescription drug program. The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2011 (S.44), which was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices for those enrolled in Medicare Part D. Despite the claims of opponents, this legislation would not give the Secretary the power to negotiate which prescription drugs are covered by Medicare Part D or to institute a price structure for reimbursements. Medicare Part D plan options would remain the same, and seniors would continue to have the same options from the same plans they have now. This legislation also would require that the Secretary provide a yearly report to Congress detailing the actions taken to ensure the fair pricing of prescription drugs purchased through Medicare.
Finally, on February 10, 2011, I once again joined a bipartisan group of Senators in cosponsoring the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act (S.319). This legislation is one of the most comprehensive bills to be introduced on reimportation of prescriptions drugs, addressing concerns that have impeded passage of similar legislation. S.319 would allow the importation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs both commercially and by individuals, allowing individuals to bring back a 90 day supply of drugs purchased in approved countries. Importation would be allowed from Canada, as well as from Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan and most of the European Union. Only those drugs that can be self-administered by patients would be allowed to be imported. Controlled substances, infused and injected drugs, biologics and inhaled drugs used in surgery would not be permitted under this bill.
Language has been included in this bill to ensure the safety of drugs coming back into the United States. First, this bill would allow the importation of drugs only if they were FDA approved and manufactured in a plant that had been inspected by the FDA. All state approved wholesalers and pharmacies importing drugs would be required to register with the FDA and must be able to provide a full history of the imported drugs from the point of manufacture to the pharmacy shelves. These drugs would be relabeled in the United States to conform to FDA labeling requirements. S.319 was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, for further consideration.
All Americans should have safe access to critically important drugs at fair prices. It seems to me that permitting safe and reasonable drug reimportation is a sensible thing to do. I will be sure to keep your views in mind as this issue is considered in Congress. Thank you again for sharing your views.
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