On May 24, 2012, the U.S. Senate voted 96 -1 in favor of a bill that would perpetuate a system that makes Americans pay more for medicine than people in any other country in the world. The bill is now before the U.S. House of Representatives.
Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont cast the lone vote no. Sanders said in a statement
posted on his website.
"The most pressing prescription drug issue in our country today is that Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for their medicine and millions of people cannot afford the medications their doctors prescribe. I voted against this bill because it does far too little to address this crisis while it perpetuates a prescription drug system that continues to fail the American people."
There were a number of amendments proposed to the bill; one, number 2107
, that was introduced by Senator John McCain from Arizona, was not agreed to by a 43-54 vote. McCain's amendment would have required FDA to codify into law regulations permitting individuals to import into the United States a prescription drug (other than a controlled substance) that:
“(1) is purchased from an approved Canadian pharmacy; (2) is dispensed by a pharmacist licensed to practice pharmacy and dispense prescription drugs in Canada; (3) is purchased for personal use by the individual, not for resale, in quantities that do not exceed a 90-day supply; (4) is filled using a valid prescription issued by a physician licensed to practice in the United States; and (5) has the same active ingredient or ingredients, route of administration, dosage form, and strength as a prescription drug approved by [FDA].”
The 294-page bill goes before the U.S. House of Representatives next. A provision buried in the bill, Section 805, authorizes Customs and Border Protection to destroy imported shipments of prescription drugs valued at $2,000 or less. The bill's language, drafted by drug company lobbyists, allows for the destruction of these drugs based solely on their value, not any perceived health threat. The provision protects the interests of major pharmaceutical companies at the expense of those who need medicine at an affordable price. According
to RxRights, a group fighting this legislation,
"If this bill passes and becomes law with its present language, nearly a million Americans who import safe and affordable drugs would no longer have this option. The vast majority of those who import are senior citizens who live on fixed incomes. Over 100,000 people in Florida alone purchase their medication from licensed Canadian and international pharmacies.... Destruction of life-saving medicine should be extremely limited. It should only occur when evidence shows it represents a danger to public health..."