Lord Byron’s Amendment on Closing Prescription Drug Loophole

In Open Letter on November 23, 2009 at 12:17 AM

November 22, 2009

Senator Saxby Chambliss
416 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Johnny Isakson
120 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Chambliss and Senator Isakson,

Senator Dorgan of North Dakota apparently is offering an amendment to the Health Bill scheduled for debate after Thanksgiving. Whatever your position on the overall state of the legislation, please consider passing the amendment. It is one that aims to even the playing field for consumers accessing equally-priced prescription drugs in the U.S. that happen to be priced lower elsewhere in different countries.

Here is the Congressional Record from Friday – November 20, 2009:

“I want to talk about an amendment I intend to offer as soon as we are able to offer amendments. It is an amendment, by the way, that is bipartisan, unlike a lot of things in this Chamber. My amendment was cosponsored by the late Ted Kennedy. It is also cosponsored by Senator OLYMPIA SNOWE, Senator JOHN MCCAIN, Senator CHUCK GRASSLEY, Senator DEBBIE STABENOW, and the list goes on including Republicans and Democrats. The amendment is about prescription drug prices, and I want to describe it.

“It says let’s give the American people the freedom to access the identical FDA-approved drugs when they are sold for a fraction of the price everywhere else in the world. The American consumer is charged the highest prices in the world for brand-name drugs.

“By the way, here is what is happening to price increases for prescription drugs. We see the rate of inflation in this country. That is the yellow line. Take a look at drug prices, the red line. By the way, this past year, there was a 9 percent increase in prescription drug pricing………

“To put a finer point on it, if I might, this is the price of Lipitor. This is the new price, by the way–$4.78 in the United States for a 20-milligram tablet and $2.05 in Canada.

“By the way, here is what the two bottles look like. The same pill is put in these bottles, made by the same company–Lipitor. It is the same manufacturing plant in Ireland. They put the same pill in these two bottles. This one goes to the United States; this one goes to Canada. The American consumer has the privilege of paying $4.78 per tablet, and the Canadian buys it for $2.05. That was June 4, 2009, when I priced it.

“It is not just Lipitor, although Lipitor is the most popular cholesterol-lowering drug. But Zocor, a 20-milligram tablet, the same thing, $5.16, $2.45, U.S. price versus Canadian price.

“I used Canada because it is a close neighbor. I could have used Spain, Italy, France, Germany.”

Thank you for your consideration in surveying this proposed amendment. Access the remainder of Senator Dorgan’s commentary in its entirety here by Thomas.gov.


James Breedlove


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