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Reid ‘Guarantees’ Action on Prescription Drug Reimportation Ban

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed Tuesday that the Senate this year will consider controversial legislation allowing Americans to buy their prescription drugs from abroad, where they sell for much less than they do domestically.

In a Sept. 22 letter to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Reid promised that if the issue isn’t tackled during the debate over comprehensive health care reform, he “guarantee[s]” consideration of a free-standing bill “before the end of the year.”

Dorgan, McCain and Snowe are all sponsors of a bill allowing U.S.-licensed pharmacies to import FDA-approved medications from Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would save American consumers $50 billion over the next decade.

The proposal is popular with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, but the pharmaceutical industry — arguing that the safety of importing drugs from abroad can’t be guaranteed — has had great success lobbying the proposal to death in recent years.

Indeed, despite the 30 co-sponsors lined up in support of the Dorgan-Snowe-McCain bill, Reid warned the lawmakers that passage “will not be easy.”

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