Drug reimportation emerges again in health debate

The Hill reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "has agreed to allow Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) to bring an amendment to a vote this week that would allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from abroad despite the fact that it could blow up a truce between the White House, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) on healthcare reform." Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is among the amendment's co-sponsors. 

The Hill adds that Dorgan "could assemble a bipartisan coalition of more than 60 votes to disregard the agreement to limit PhRMA's financial exposure in exchange for its support of reform, which would risk a battle with a powerful industry that has fought healthcare reform in the past" (Young, 12/7).

CBS News: "Dorgan's amendment would allow for the re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada, a move that could save the federal government $19 billion over 10 years, according to nonpartisan analysis. .... Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is insisting the Senate consider yet another amendment that could break up the industry agreement. Nelson wants drug makers to give the government rebates on drugs sold to Medicare and Medicaid patients, thereby closing the 'doughnut hole' -- a gap in Medicare Part D coverage. The plan could cost the industry $106 billion over 10 years" (Condon, 12/7).


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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