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Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2004

Senators introduce bill for importing prescription drugs

April 22, 2004

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— Support for legalizing lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada is growing in Congress amid an election-year clamor from states, lawmakers and the elderly.

The White House and Republican congressional leaders remain opposed, saying there is no way to ensure safety. Nonetheless, proponents contend that public frustration with rising drug prices and growing defiance of a federal ban on prescription imports will force action before the November elections.

The latest legislation to allow Americans to fill their prescriptions in Canada was introduced Wednesday by a diverse group of Republican and Democratic senators. It would eventually allow drugs to be imported from 20 industrialized countries, mainly Europe.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, one of its sponsors, said the bill "is a recognition of reality" that also assures safety by limiting imports to drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration and manufactured at FDA-inspected plants. It also would increase the FDA's budget to do inspections.

Republican John McCain of Arizona is also a sponsor, as are Democrat Sens. Edward Kennedy, of Massachusetts, Byron Dorgan, of North Dakota, and Tom Daschle, of South Dakota.

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