Sunday, July 12, 2009

Internet drug purchases included in spending bills

From the Associated Press:
The Senate dealt a blow to the drug lobby Thursday by voting to permit people in the United States to order lower-cost drugs from Canada over the Internet.

The prescription drug plan, by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., passed the Senate by a 55-36 vote that added it to a $42.9 billion bill funding the Homeland Security Department. The Senate then approved the homeland security measure by a 84-6 vote Thursday night.

Critics said Vitter's amendment would open a gaping loophole that would expose people to Internet scams and unsafe drugs, but the allure of importing U.S.-made drugs from other countries where government policies have driven prices lower has long had a pull on lawmakers.

But so too has the drug lobby, which has always defeated attempts to allow consumers widespread access to "reimported" drugs. Several Democratic leaders, including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and his top lieutenant, Dick Durbin of Illinois, initially opposed Vitter's amendment, only switching their votes after it became clear the popular idea would pass.

Their doubts about the idea may ensure the drug importation rule gets dropped during House-Senate negotiations on a final bill. Currently, U.S. travelers may return with a three-month supply of drugs when crossing the border. ...more

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