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Senate Rejects Drug Importation Amendment, Protects the Secret PhRMA Deal

December 16, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate last night voted down an amendment that would have allowed American to buy FDA-approved prescription drugs from overseas, where prices are usually much lower. If it had passed and been added to the Senate health care bill, it has been estimated to save consumers $80 billion on drugs over the next ten years and the government $19 billion over the same period.

Why would the Senate vote down such an amendment? Mike Lillis at the Washington Independent explains:

The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), has been a week-long thorn in the side to Democratic leaders — not because they opposed the provision, but because it threatened to undermine a deal cut earlier in the year between the White House and the nation’s pharmaceutical companies. Under that agreement, the drug makers pledged up to $80 billion toward health-care reform over the next decade if Democratic leaders would withhold their support for several proposals that would cut further into the companies’ profits, including the drug re-importation provision. As a result, White House officials in recent days had urged Democrats to oppose the Dorgan-Snowe amendment, with the FDA writing a letter to senators warning that the agency “does not have clear authority over foreign supply chains.”

The amendment required 60 “ayes” to be approved. It was rejected by a vote of 51-48. Unlike most other health care votes, this one was not split nicely among party lines.

(Pie chart visualizations of the vote forthcoming on those pages.)

An alternative drug importation amendment from Sen. Frank Lautenberg [D, NJ] which added language requiring the U.S. government to certify the safety of all imported drugs, was also defeated.

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  • Slugger 12/16/2009 4:48am

    GREED,ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY IN THEIR POCKETS.!! BUT EVERY LETTER AND BREATH THEY ASK US TO DONATE.!! THEY DON’T LISTEN TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.THEY ARE HELL BENT ON DESTROYING THIS COUNTRY AND PUT THE PEOPLE IN CHAINS.A REMINDER, The Senators and Representatives and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.

  • spender 12/16/2009 5:04am

    Byron Dorgan voted against his own amendment? This really is the best show it town.

  • Comm_reply
    donnyshaw 12/16/2009 5:22am

    Hey spender, I accidentally linked to the roll call data for the alternative Lautenberg amendment in the original post. I have corrected the links now and you can see that Dorgan voted in favor of his amendment. Sorry for the mix up!

  • BenjaWiz 12/16/2009 5:35am

    Bad idea we could have saved a lot of money with this bill at hand the Democrats have failed the American people on this and the public option of the healthcare bill very sad :(.

  • catfarmman 12/16/2009 5:58am

    I agree with you, Slugger.

  • JohnB 12/16/2009 2:19pm

    A few years ago 60 Minutes did their show on people going to Mexico for medical treatments. Many were going for dental work. It was a fraction of the cost here. They actually had bus tours going back and forth.
    I think we’ll be seeing alot more of this, people close to the borders, crossing for medical services and medication.

  • Doingtherightthing 12/17/2009 1:12am

    This is the kind of stuff that sends our country tanking. When this was the one thing that could of really helped millions of Americans. Its just sad ,there is no excuse they can possiably give,it was a direct slam dunk for corperate greed Amercia lining there pockets, while bending over Amecicans. Why even have a congress the whole thing is fixed ,our country is worhtless anymore,if they cant even do a simple thing like this to help.

    America the few the proud the bent over.
  • penelope 12/17/2009 5:55pm

    Is this the United States? Why should there even be a vote to be able to import drugs? Isn’t this one of our freedoms our right already? When was that freedom stolen from us and by whom? When did the drug makers and the FDA all of a sudden deem themselves to be our law makers? Who are the Senators that are voting for eliminating our freedoms and writing a new constitution and why? Should they not be tried for treason? What is happening in these United States? Where is the integrity of these Senators who voted against safe importation of drugs? People,get smart vote them out and realize they are using there powerful position against you and for their own profit.Vote them out. They have there own personal comprehensive health care plan and drug plan.They could care less about you. These Senators are making sure that the poor and the under insured cannot get the drugs they need because they have their hands in the pocket of the drug companies.Vote them out!

  • Robbieshea 12/19/2009 9:05am

    Everything that isnt pills already comes from China, What the heck?

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