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Importation amendment fails to advance, drawing NACDS praise for Senate panel


ALEXANDRIA, Va. A move in the U.S. Senate to block legislation that would have allowed the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada and other nations drew quick praise Wednesday from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

The drug reimportation amendment, offered in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as part of broad health care reform proposals, failed to advance by a vote of 12 to 10. In response, NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson sent a letter praising the dozen committee members who voted against the proposal.

“This was an important legislative victory for patient health and prescription drug safety,” NACDS stated.

Senators opposing the reimportation amendment on the HELP Committee included Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wy.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

In his letter to those committee members, Anderson reaffirmed that “NACDS is committed to reducing the cost of and increasing access to prescription drugs.” However, he pointed out, “We do not believe that patient safety can be ensured in any system that allows for the importation of prescription medications.

“In addition to questions concerning the safety and effectiveness of these drugs, those who obtain prescription medications through importation schemes do not have a qualified, licensed pharmacist available to consult with regarding safe and effective use of prescription medications,” Anderson told lawmakers.

The NACDS executive also argued that there are safer and more effective alternatives to reducing prescription drug costs for Americans. “Every day,” he wrote, “retail pharmacists assist customers with obtaining the most cost effective, therapeutically appropriate drug therapies, including affordable and effective generic drugs.”

In particular, said Anderson, “The generic dispensing rate at retail pharmacies is 64.5% – higher than any other pharmacy practice setting. We urge Congress to adopt policies that will bring more generic drugs to market and to create incentives for doctors to prescribe and pharmacies to dispense generic medications.

“One of the most critical ways to do this is by reforming the Medicaid ‘average manufacturer price’ system, which, as currently written, will reimburse pharmacies one-third less than what it costs them to purchase generic medications,” Anderson added. “Congress should create incentives for generic drugs, not disincentives.”

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