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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-11 06:02 PM
Original message
Did Kerry give the justification of voting NO on
Edited on Thu Oct-20-11 06:11 PM by Mass
reimporting drugs from Canada? I am really puzzled, particularly given the fact that the bill talks about FDA approved prescriptions?

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/r...

Interesting. I asked the question on the senate website and got an automated answer. Last time I wrote to ask a question (it must have been a couple years ago), they did not have this. Between this and the newsletter, there is progress on the front of communicating with the outside world.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-11 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. That roll call is really mixed
My guess looking at it and seeing Harkin, Murray and Durbin there is that it might be a poison bill to the Agriculture bill. (The two NJ Senators, who are usually safe votes are not on this because of the huge NJ drug industry.

I actually wonder if they can regulate medicine under patent - which have a monopoly. The reason they are cheaper in Canada is because the same drug company sells them for far less. Some are even made in USA, trucked to Canada and sold cheaper there - which would make no sense if they were not a monopoly. It seems they want to recover all their research costs and much of their profit on US sales - so it is more expensive here. It seems silly to reimport when there may be a way to address the inequality. Why are they selling it for less elsewhere?
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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-11 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Negotiations at govt level is what makes the difference.
Here, prices are discussed with insurance companies, which means that they do not have the same scale effects, and that people without insurance are screwed a little more. This is why such a law is so important.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 06:44 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. My point is why truck the drugs to Canada and re-import them
I am wondering if the fact that they have a monopoly for several years should mean that they - for those drugs - the drug company should be a regulated monopoly - as the Bell System was (and its descendants still are) when it was the only long distance carrier. The fact that they sell the drug for so much less to Canada shows that they have been abusing their monopoly.

I agree that the Canadian government represents a huge number of potential customers - and that is why they like major insurance companies can negotiate a better price if there are competing drugs for the same conditions. It just seems that the root of the problem is that we allow the drug companies the opportunity to be monopolies.
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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 07:15 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. I agree they have been abusing their power.
Edited on Fri Oct-21-11 07:17 AM by Mass
What I find disturbing is that the government (Dems or Republicans alike) are not ready to vote to do something to help people. It is all a gotcha game. This should be a no-brainer, as this is one of the few bills which could genuinely help people, but you see people vote against it who voted for it when Bush was president and vice-versa. And I would guess there is a correlation between the votes and the presence of pharma in the states.

They cannot easily force the US to negotiate prices at a federal level as the rest of the world does. But they could show support for amendments like that. These amendments matter.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 07:39 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. The switch of votes dependent on who is President might actually
reflect who controls the Senate and whose bill is being amended. Where I have seen votes - like Kerry's here and Kerry's and Kennedy's in 2007 - is when the Democrats controlled the Senate and it is their bill. If they know that passing this will sink the bill it is on - they will vote against it - even though they were co-sponsors of Dorgan's bill (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d110,d110:1:./t... |/home/LegislativeData.php?n=BSS;c=110|# ) that was for this and if one ran for President arguing for it.

If it really dooms the bill, then in reality the amendment is actually a very cruel game - where the outcome would NEVER be that it becomes law. (Do I think Vitter would do that? - well, yeah ) That is why I pointed to many liberal Senate leaders - Kerry, Harkin, Durbin, Murray. It looks as though they voted as a block to prevent that.

It is important to recognize that this is NOT a standalone bill where every concern is on the amendment alone. It could be that with it in, they are certain that the two NJ and DE Senators - all Democrats - would vote to filibuster the final vote on the agriculture bill - in addition to enough Republicans. (Menendez and Carper were shameless on the Finance committee when the healthcare bill was debated - strongly protecting Pharma.)
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
6. here is the only on the record reason in the Senate record - from Mikulski

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I oppose this amendment. First, it is a budget buster. To enforce this will take enormous amounts of resources. You cannot be sure that that drug coming from Canada is not a counterfeit, lethal death drug. You don't have any enforcement procedures in here, you don't have the money to enforce it, and we have a history of phony drugs coming into rogue Web sites through counterfeit countries.

If you want a drug that has been made in a country that we view as predators toward the United States, when you take your Coumadin, when you want your wife to take her breast cancer drug, when your daughter is going to take that birth control bill, then you want the Vitter amendment. But if you want safety, then defeat the amendment.



I don't quite understand how it's a budget buster - unless she is saying that there will be lower taxes coming from Pharms because of lower earning - ignoring that net people save. Don't we have the same enormous resources trying to keep the drugs out now?
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Blaukraut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Her argument about counterfeit drugs actually speaks FOR the amendment
Controlled and regulated re-import of drugs from Canada (hardly a rogue third world medical mischief nation) would lessen the risk of counterfeit drugs being brought into the market.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Interesting - though that was not her position
I think you are more likely right than she is.
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Blaukraut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Oh I know her position is that reimport would risk counterfeit
what I meant to say is that her argument actually makes no sense if the fear is counterfeit drugs. Legal reimport should actually do the opposite of what she claims, so she really is making the case FOR reimport, even unwittingly.
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 02:07 PM
Response to Reply #7
13. By the FDA...
...a federal agency.
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 12:37 PM
Response to Original message
10. This is puzzling. I was thinking that...
...the amendement was to limit the FDA's authority. It seemed to allow re-import from Canada for commercial use (meaning HMOs, etc. would have access to the cheaper drug prices) but if FDA wanted to 'police' individuals from traveling to Canada for cheaper medication, the Vitter Amendment would keep the FDA from 'policing' individuals. Sort of an 'individual rights RW thing'.

So a NO vote would mean the FDA could still have oversight over commercial importation activity (for HMOs) and for individuals who travel to Canada for cheaper meds. IMO, that is good, because the FDA could then have a role in assessing the quality of the medications people are buying in Canada.

??????? Am I totally off here? :7


(Vitter)AMENDMENT PURPOSE:
To prohibit the Food and Drug Administration from preventing an individual not in the business of importing a prescription drug from importing an FDA-approved prescription drug from Canada.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SP769:
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. It would allow reimportation from Canada including through mail order and the internet
Edited on Fri Oct-21-11 01:16 PM by karynnj

Mr. VITTER. I ask unanimous consent to waive the reading of the whole.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To prohibit the Food and Drug Administration from preventing an individual not in the business of importing a prescription drug from importing an FDA-approved prescription drug from Canada)

On page 83, between lines 20 and 21, insert the following:

Sec. X. None of the funds made available in this Act for the Food and Drug Administration shall be used to prevent an individual not in the business of importing a prescription drug (within the meaning of section 801(g) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 381(g))) from importing a prescription drug from Canada that complies with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, let me briefly explain what this amendment is about, and I will be very brief. It will allow for personal use drug reimportation from Canada only. In doing so, this amendment is nearly identical to an amendment I proposed previously on the Senate floor last Congress which passed in a very strong bipartisan vote.

Americans spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs. Prescription drug prices are skyrocketing, and they continue to skyrocket, and that causes real hurt and angst among many American families, particularly American seniors. They shouldn't have to choose between lifesaving medicine and other basic needs of life, such as food and electricity, and yet often the reality is that they do have to make that choice.

My amendment would help ease a little bit of this pain by giving Americans more options. But in doing so, it is very narrow, it is very cautious, it is very specific. It applies to only individual consumers--not wholesalers--bringing in for their personal use FDA-approved prescription drugs, and only from one country; namely, Canada.

As I said, in doing so the language is nearly identical to the Vitter amendment to the DHS appropriations bill that passed the Senate last Congress with a strong bipartisan majority, 55 to 36, with 9 members not voting.

This would provide real relief to millions of Americans, including seniors. It would allow reimportation from Canada--a very safe source country--including through mail order and over the Internet. The language, again, was restricted to personal use reimportation. Wholesalers cannot participate. It only applies to a consumer who gets a valid prescription from a doctor. So this amendment would specifically prohibit funding to the FDA to the extent that they would crack down and prohibit and police against this narrow activity.

Back home and in Washington, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle often talk about doing something about skyrocketing prescription drug costs. This is a very specific, narrowly tailored, cautious but effective means where we can do something, where we can have an impact, where we can help tens of millions of Americans, including many vulnerable seniors.

I hope Democrats and Republicans will come together again, as we did last Congress, and give a strong, healthy bipartisan majority to this idea. It is the right thing to do. It would help Americans, it would help seniors, and it is a very careful, cautious approach: personal use only, not wholesalers, Canada only.

Again, I urge that we adopt this amendment.

I yield the floor.


The thing I find strange is that he seems to say that this amendment does this by defunding the policing of prescriptions brought back from Canada. That would seem not to change the legal status - just the enforcement.
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. I think he is just trying to take power away from the FDA. Most...
...Republicans want to get rid of federal control of everything...period. States rights argument.
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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. What power? There is no state right argument here. The FDA still approves these drugs.
Edited on Fri Oct-21-11 02:36 PM by Mass
I do not understand why you think it is a bad thing for people to have a way to afford safe drugs at a lower cost. The same drugs, approved by the Federal Government in both cases.

I am not sure what motivated Vitter in this, but the fact that Sanders and your two senators voted YES tells me all I want to know on the fact this bill is not bad for the people. Which is why I'd like to understand Kerry's reasons.

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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 05:23 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. I think you may have misunderstood...
...me. I do not AT ALL think it is a bad thing for people to have a way to afford safe drugs at a lower cost. What did I say that seemed to imply that?
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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. I know you do not oppose that, but you oppose this amendment , and the only
obvious thing it does is allow people to buy safe drugs in Canada. So, I have a hard time to understand why you seem to oppose it.
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Thanks for the response...
...Mass. Actually, I don't know how I feel about the amendment. I am puzzled, but I am still trying to understand it...and what a 'no' vote signifies.

I think part of my confusion...while I know this legislation is about Canada...is that I live near the southern border with Mexico. There are many related/parallel issues that complicate my thought process on this. :7
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. Here's an article that speaks of some of the possible impacts
Edited on Fri Oct-21-11 08:19 PM by karynnj
Some comments are more interesting than the articles - especially when they speak of the shortages. Vitter's reason is very interesting - he wants Canada's system to fail! It is interesting to speculate what the big drug would do if something like this passed. I doubt they would just continue the status quo. They might put a limit on the amount of each drug they would sell - leading to Canada requiring that it be just for people living in Canada or visitors staying some minimum time.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/medical-devices-an...
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-11 09:18 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Thank you, karynnj! I'll read it...
...in the morning. I know the issues with Canada are not all the same as here. I really appreciate the info. :hi:
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