Sanders Testifies in Senate on Drug Re-importation

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(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that there’s no doubt in his mind prescription drugs can be re-imported from Canada without any major safety concerns.

The committee held a special hearing to consider safety issues associated with re-importation.

Sanders told committee chairman Orrin Hatch that if the government can protect the nation’s food supply from overseas, it certainly can set up a system to safeguard re-imported drugs:

(Sanders) “Senator, when we go out to lunch this afternoon I’m going to have – and I’m happy to take you out to lunch this afternoon – and I will treat you to a salad. And we’ll have some lettuce and tomatoes that probably come from Mexico or somewhere in Latin America, or maybe we’ll have some grapes that come from Chile. Now if we can eat food from all over the world, how is it that the Food and Drug Administration cannot regulate a handful of pharmaceutical industries and track the medicine that goes abroad and comes back?”

(Host) Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles disputed Sanders’ claim that re-importation could lower drugs costs by as much a 40 percent. Nickles said the risks associated with re-importation are not worth the limited savings that would be available:

(Nickles) “We’d get a lot of safety problems, we’d probably get a lot of counterfeit drugs, we’d probably have a lot of people eventually die as a result of getting the wrong drugs with the wrong dosage. And probably more importantly than that we’d probably see a real deterioration of the research and development that we do in the pharmaceutical industry in this country.”

(Host) Backers of re-importation in the Senate are hoping to have a vote on this issue in the next few weeks.

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