Saturday, March 18, 2017

15.2 - Good News: more support for drug importation bill

Good News: more support for drug importation bill

We have one other bit of Good News which I am calling "sorta Good News." Good News with a question mark, if you will.

A few weeks ago, I told you about an attempt by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and some others to allow pharmacists to import drugs from Canada - and how despite attracting the support of a dozen GOPpers the measure failed because 13 Dimcrats voted against it.

One of that demon's dozen, Cory Booker, took the brunt of the heated reaction because of his status as the liberal hero du jour.

Well, the Good News part is that Booker is co-sponsoring a new version of the bill along with Sanders and Amy Klobuchar - as are three others among those who voted against it before. That means that if all the GOPper support from before holds, they have 50 votes and a real chance of passage, at least in the Senate.

Booker, as a politician who sits in their office dreaming of being president someday will, insisted that the criticism had nothing to do with his change of heart. It was, he insisted, that he won inclusion of additional safety standards in the bill, because of course it goes without saying that the protection of the American public was his real concern, not the boatload of campaign contributions he has gotten from the pharmaceutical industry.

Still, he is on the right side now. But this is where the Good News becomes the "sorta" Good News. Some of those so-called "safeguards" are actually loopholes for Big Pharma. Two in particular stand out, one relatively minor, the other important:

The minor one is that that foreign sellers can only sell drugs manufactured in an FDA-registered facility. That would effectively limit things to reimportation of drugs made in the US and exported to Canada. That's not a significant limitation, since most of the drugs that would be involved would fit that description - that is, most of the meds would be ones that are being reimported. That again raises the question about the supposed need for additional safety regulations since we are talking for the most part about US-manufactured drugs (not to mention the implied slam against Canada's own standards), but leave that aside.

The other requirement is that foreign sellers of drugs would have to be certified by the US Secretary of Health and Human Services. That would means that the White House could effectively totally block the importation of meds from Canada simply by not getting around to certifying any such foreign sellers or by finding fault with every application for certification.

All of which means that the move to allow for the importation of medications from Canada is back on track - but with enough PSs and footnote to make Big Pharma smile. So yes, I would have to call this "sorta" Good News.

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