Bipartisan Support In Senate For Canadian Drug Imports
Making headway on overturning the strongly opposed ban on reimporting drugs imposed under the Medicare prescription drug law, a bipartisan group of Senators has introduced a bill authorizing the importation of cheaper medications from Canada.
One of the key features of the proposed legislation reportedly would permit individuals to purchase and import 90-day supplies of a drug from Canada for their personal use.
This would duplicate what most members of private drug programs have been doing for years—and paying far less than most others without coverage must pay.
Under this provision, the individuals would be able to deal only with Canadian pharmacies that the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had inspected and approved. This is another key provision in the bill.
A strong argument against importing drugs from Canada and other countries overseas has been the safety question—the possibility that counterfeit drugs of inferior quality would be sent to customers in this country. The new proposal would require importers to register with the FDA and pay fees up to one percent of the price of the drugs they import. The FDA would use the money to hire additional inspectors and other personnel to control imports by using new technology to thwart counterfeiters.
The bipartisan group of Senators behind the bill are, on the Republican side, John McCain (Ariz.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Trent Lott (Mississippi). Democrats include Ted Kennedy (Massachusetts), Byron Dorgan (North Dakota) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (South Dakota).
This group is pushing strongly the measure because drug imports solve the problem of high-priced drugs. The supporters are also mindful that it would be in their favor if the legislation passes because it could mean seniors would repay them at the polls this November.
As for the bill’s chances in the House, drug imports from Canada were approved there last year and in previous years as well.
A bill was sponsored by Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) two years ago, but it was not implemented because the FDA felt there were not sufficient protections for the public.
The latest Senate bipartisan bill, however, addresses the safety issue. This could make the difference if this bill passes the Senate and goes to the House.
At the same time, a task force set up under the Medicare reform law signed by President George W. Bush last December is studying whether drugs can be imported safely.
Meanwhile, there is opposition to the new bipartisan bill from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical companies lose money if drugs they sell to Canada are reimported at a lower price because the same drugs are much more expensive here in the U.S. However, their opposition to drug imports is always made on the issue of safety and the need to protect the public’s health.
AS DRIVERS AGE, RISK OF DEADLY ACCIDENTS INCREASES: An article in Car & Travel, the monthly magazine of the New York chapter of the AAA, reports that new research sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that drivers 65 and over are nearly twice as likely to die in a collision as drivers in the 55-to-64 age bracket.
The article says that as a result of the findings, the organization plans to focus more intensely on crash prevention to save seniors’ lives as they continue driving.
The finding came from an analysis of almost 4 million crashes over a 25-year period done by the Texas Transportation Institute. It showed, "Crash consequences became progressively more serious with age." It concluded, "The likelihood of a fatality was nearly four times higher for drivers 85 and older, compared with the 55-to 64-year-old group."
The study also found, the report said, that as age increased, perceptual lapses—the inability to see, recognize or process traffic signs and signals—increased.
Another danger for aging drivers was left turns.
The AAA article said that the driver advocate organization had launched a "Lifelong Safe Mobility" campaign which seeks to improve safety by developing new self screening tools for older drivers, by developing senior-friendly road design and educating drivers to adapt their vehicle to offset physical limitations brought on by aging.
‘VALENTINES FOR VETS’ CITATIONS: Last Friday, Assemblymember Michael Cohen (D–Forest Hills) and representatives of Catholic War Veterans Post 1172 and American Legion Post 1424 presented Assembly citations to classes at P.S. 144, Forest Hills, that took part in the Valentines for Veterans program. Every year, Cohen said, P.S. 144 students make Valentine’s Day cards for vets living at the VA Extended Care Center in St. Albans.
MEETING: The AARP Chorus will present "The Best of Operettas" next Wednesday, May 5, at the meeting of AARP Chapter No. 2889 at 12:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, 54-05 Seabury St., Elmhurst.