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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine October 2003
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What You Can Do to Fight High Drug Prices
America is facing a nationwide economic health care crisis. One reason for this is over-priced prescription drugs. These same drugs can be purchased in other countries for far less money.

We are asking all Foundation members to write a short personal letter to their two Senators. The letter on the following page is an example of what you might want to write to urge your Senators to pass the House's version of The Pharmaceutical Marketing Access Act of 2003 (H.R. 2427). If this bill is passed into law, the cost of prescription drugs will be drastically reduced.

Corrupt bureaucracies will trample basic human rights as long as the citizenry remains passive and apathetic. Please write a letter in support of this bill and mail it to your two Senators.

To find your two Senators, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 1-202-225-3121. If you want to discuss this with your Senators, you can be connected to their offices directly.

View a list of Senators by state

Directly contact your two Senators online


Date:

The Honorable Senator___________
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator___________:

Today's health care cost crisis can be mitigated if Americans are allowed to import lower-priced, FDA- approved drugs from other countries.

On July 25, 2003, the House passed the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003 (H.R. 2427) by a margin of 243 to 186. This bill will enable Americans to access lower-priced medications from other countries that are identical to those sold in the United States. The bill mandates strict quality-control standards that will make imported drugs as safe as those I buy in my local pharmacy.

This same prescription drug importation bill has been introduced in the Senate. I urge you to put your full support behind the House's version of The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003 (H.R. 2427).

Please confirm to me in writing that you will vote YES for the drug importation bill (The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003).

Sincerely,

Name:
Address:
City: ST ZIP


SUMMARY:
Pharmaceutical Marketing Access Act of 2003

Americans Deserve World-Class Drugs at World Market Prices!

THE PROBLEM:
Americans Cannot Afford Outrageous Prices for Prescription Drugs

The Congressional Budget Office estimates prescription drugs will cost Medicare beneficiaries $1.8 trillion over the next ten years. A $400 billion Medicare band-aid on a $1.8 trillion problem cannot solve the problem.

Two years ago, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Medicine Equity and Safety (MEDS) Act. It was the intent of Congress to allow Americans to import wholesale quantities of lower-cost prescription drugs into the United States. But the promise of this legislation has gone unfulfilled. Even though the FDA largely wrote the bill, it has not implemented the law. What has been the result? Americans continue to pay drug prices that are 30-300 percent more than in European and other industrialized nations. Even HHS Secretaries Shalala and Thompson admit that Americans should not have to pay higher prices so that the "starving Swiss" can pay less for the same prescription drugs.

This price disparity is wrong. Despite a second vote in the House in favor of opening pharmaceutical markets (Amendment #150 passed 324 to 101 on 7/11/2001 as part of H.R. 2330), prescriptions continue to go unfilled because prices are too high in the United States. Worse yet, the FDA holds a legal dagger over the heads of those Americans seeking better health who attempt to import FDA-approved drugs. Fortunately, Congress has another opportunity to do the right thing and codify America's right to open pharmaceutical markets.

THE SOLUTION:
Create a Competitive Market So That Americans Can Afford Safe Prescription Drugs

Market Access: Under the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act, the FDA must design and implement a system to grant individuals, pharmacists and wholesalers in America access to FDA-approved drugs from FDA-approved facilities in industrialized nations abroad.

Market Access: Those countries are limited to: the European Union, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and South Africa. Note: Mexico is NOT included.

Safety: The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act strengthens America's commitment to maintaining the safest pharmaceutical drug market in the world. This bill requires all prescription drugs produced at home and abroad to use counterfeit-resistant packaging, similar to the technology used by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. If the technology is good enough to secure U.S. currency, it's good enough to secure our pharmaceutical chain-of-custody.
Safety: The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act contains language written by the legal team at FDA that requires wholesalers to test each pharmaceutical shipment, unless the packaging uses counterfeit-resistant technology. The FDA's strict language was written to provide for the safety of imported pharmaceuticals from anywhere in the world.
Safety: The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act strictly prohibits anyone from importing pharmaceutical narcotics, such as OxyContin.

Safety: The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act requires the FDA to implement this program within 180 days of enactment. This frees Americans from an environment where patients forgo pharmaceutical treatments, at risk to their own health, because their prescriptions are too expensive.

STATUTE:
The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act recognizes that unaffordable prescription drugs do nothing to improve the health of American consumers. That is an unsafe situation. The bill amends Section 804 of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 381) by striking language which requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to certify that imported drugs pose "no additional risk" to Americans under a market access regime. By contrast, the Secretaries of HHS and USDA are not required to certify "no additional risk" for fruits and meats-food-borne pathogens claim thousands of lives each year in the United States. HHS and the USDA have never suggested banning the importation of food. The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act removes this weak language from pharmaceutical legislation and relies on technology and more aggressive safety testing to provide real protections for Americans.