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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Public Health -

House majority seeks vote on drug importation

Public HealthMay 27, 05

A bipartisan majority of House members has signed a letter made public on Thursday urging a vote on legislation that would allow Americans to save money by importing drugs from foreign countries.

The bill passed the House by a wide margin two years ago but died in the Senate. Sponsors say support has grown to well over the 221 signatures on the letter. A majority is 218 votes.

The backers of the legislation told a news conference they do not currently plan to take aggressive procedural measures to force a vote - but didn’t rule out that option down the road.

“I believe in being pleasantly persistent,” said bill sponsor Rep. Gil Gutknecht, a Minnesota Republican. But he added, “I would not foreclose other alternatives if our pleasantness does not bear fruit.”

The bill would allow U.S. consumers to obtain drugs from 25 industrialized countries. The medications would all have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and made in FDA-approved facilities.

Identical drugs sold abroad often cost only a fraction of the U.S. price, even though many of the drugs were developed through U.S. government-funded research.

Several importation bills have been introduced in the Senate, but votes have not been scheduled. One of the leading bills would initially allow imports only from Canada.

Numerous states, counties and cities - including the Maryland county where the FDA is based - have started their own drug importation programs to reduce costs.

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