[Ip-health] Sanders, Booker, Casey (Senate), Cummings Doggett (House) bills on parallel trade

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Tue Feb 28 14:16:10 PST 2017

Below is the press release on the Sanders, Booker, Casey bill on parallel
trade. It is quite notable that Booker and Casey are co-sponsors for the
Senate version, having voted against an earlier proposal on parallel trade.

A copy of the bill is available here:

The bill has been endorsed by several consumer groups.  KEI likes most of
the legislation, but recommends the Congress consider a change in Section
(e), IMPORTATION FROM OTHER COUNTRIES, the part of the bill which
designates which countries to accept parallel imports from.  The bill now
limits parallel imports to countries that are members of OECD and has
or regulatory standards for the approval and sale of prescription drugs
that are comparable to the standards in the United States.   We would like
this narrowed, to exclude any country with a per capita income that is 50
percent or less than the US per capita income.  That is our only concern
with the bill as drafted, and something I would hope can be fixed.



Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act Introduced to Help
Lower Skyrocketing Cost of Medicine

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 – Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
and Bob Casey (D-Penn.) introduced legislation Tuesday to lower the
skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs by allowing Americans to import
safe, low-cost medicine from Canada. Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and
Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) introduced a companion bill in the House.

Both measures would authorize the secretary of Health and Human Services in
two years to allow importation from other advanced countries.

In Canada and other major countries, the same medications, manufactured by
the same companies, in the same factories are available for a fraction of
the price compared to the United States. In 2014, Americans spent $1,112
per person on prescription drugs while Canadians spent $772 and Danes spent

While five major drug manufacturers made more than $50 billion in profits
in 2015, nearly 1 in 5 American adults could not afford the medicine they
were prescribed.

“I am very proud to join with Sens. Booker and Casey and Reps. Cummings and
Doggett and many, many others in the Senate and the House to introduce this
critical legislation to lower the outrageous cost of prescription drugs,”
Sanders said. “I say to President Trump: Talk is cheap. If you really have
the guts to take on the pharmaceutical industry, tell your Republican
friends in the House and the Senate to pass this legislation. Do it tonight
in your address to Congress. Or admit to the American people that you were
lying to them during the campaign.”

“After he was elected, President Trump said he would bring down drug
prices. He also warned that the pharmaceutical industry is ‘getting away
with murder,’ and he was absolutely right,” Cummings said. “So, if the
President really means what he says, he will support our efforts, and he
will encourage his Republican colleagues to do the same.”

“This is common-sense legislation that will allow middle class families and
seniors access to safe, affordable prescription drugs through importation,”
Casey said. “No family should lack access to prescription drugs simply
because of the cost; this legislation will increase competition and help
more patients access life-saving drugs.”

Booker said, “Life-saving medications will only save lives if people can
afford them. Our common-sense legislation is a step forward, allowing for
the importation of prescription drugs under a set of strong and effective
standards necessary to ensure consumer safety. Since my days as Newark's
mayor, I’ve been working to find ways to help more people afford
prescription drugs, and this bill will do just that.”

“Prescription price gouging threatens both the health and financial
security of too many Americans – overpricing is not limited to one
pharmaceutical manufacturer, one CEO, or one class of drugs,” Doggett said.
It extends throughout an industry that regularly demands all that a sick or
dying patient will pay to recover or just to survive a little longer. From
EpiPens to insulin, from cancer to hepatitis C, families and taxpayers bear
the burden of others’ greed. Today, we say, Mr. President, 'We are calling
you out: stand by your campaign promise.' Act now against price gouging.
Restoring some competition by allowing Americans to import more affordable
drugs that meet safety standards is one step toward progress.”

“Americans have the safest prescription drug supply in the world, but
struggle to afford the exorbitant cost. Consumers should not have to choose
between prescription drug safety and affordability. This bill is designed
to address this disconnect and ensure that Americans can access safe and
affordable medication,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who joined the
other members at a press conference to introduce the bill.

The legislation, the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act,
introduced in the Senate and House, would instruct the secretary of Health
and Human Services to put forward regulations allowing wholesalers,
pharmacies and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs from
licensed Canadian sellers. After two years, the secretary would have the
authority to permit importation from countries in the Organizations for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with standards for the
approval and sale of prescription drugs that are comparable to those in the
United States.

The bill includes detailed provisions outlining safeguards and consumer
protections that ensure the safety of imported drugs, including FDA
certification of foreign sellers, a clear definition of what drugs may be
imported and supply chain security requirements.

Legally imported drugs under the bill must be purchased from an
FDA-certified foreign seller and must have the same active ingredient,
route of administration and strength as drugs approved in the United
States. The new agreement also cracks down on rogue online pharmacies.

Allowing the importation of safe and affordable prescription drugs is
overwhelmingly supported by the American people with 71 percent in favor of
allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada.
Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) Angus King
(I-Maine), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Al Franken
(D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Maggie Hassan
(D-N.H.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal
(D-C.T.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) are original co-sponsors of the
legislation in the Senate.

Original co-sponsors in the House include: Reps. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.),
Robert Brady (D-Penn.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rosa
DeLauro (D-Conn.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Marcy
Kaptur (D-Ohio), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.),
Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Ed Blumenauer (D-Ore.),
Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.).

Organizations supporting the bill include: Alliance for Retired Americans,
American Federation of Teachers, Center for Medicare Advocacy, CREDO,
DailyKos, Economic Policy Institute, Justice in Aging, MoveOn, NAACP,
National Center for Health Research, National Committee to Preserve Social
Security and Medicare, National Organization for Women,
PharmacyChecker.com, Prescription Justice, Progressive Change Campaign
Committee, RxRights, Social Security Works, Democracy for America, Patients
for Affordable Drugs, Consumers Union, National Nurses United, and Families

For a summary of the bill and background, click here.

To read the bill, click here.

For a live stream of the bill introduction press conference, click here.

James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
KEI DC tel: +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile: +1.202.361.3040, Geneva Mobile:
+41.76.413.6584, twitter.com/jamie_love

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