The Senate is considering a bill that would have allowed the reimportation of drugs from Canada. This is a measure that overwhelming majorities support, and that many people have already supported with their wallets. Some states have even explored reimporting drugs.
Of course, a popular idea that could ease the suffering and financial hardship of sick people couldn’t be allowed to stand, and an amendment by Mississippi’s Senator Cochran was passed requiring the administration to specifically approve that one provision.
Senator Pat Roberts, apparently not concerned about the cost of his memory pills, voted to gut the drug reimportation provisions.
The Cochran amendment relates to issues of safety, which is a bogus complaint. The drugs people are reimporting were produced domestically and don’t become dangerous just because they go across a border once or twice.
There is an argument to be made against drug reimportation, but dishonesty about the risks involved don’t cut it. The argument is that all we are doing is importing foreign price controls, when what we ought to be doing is establishing our own way to control the massive inflation of drug prices. Hopefully the Supreme Court’s scrutiny of patent law will help by making it easier for generic drug makers to introduce competition into the market. Allowing the Medicare drug plan to negotiate drug prices will also help in many cases. It’s possible to control drug prices without imposing price controls, let alone allowing another country to impose them for us.
But safety? If the drugs were safe when they were sent to Canada, they are safe when we bring them back.