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AARP Welcomes Senate Passage of Rx Importation, but Promises to Fight Unnecessary Importation Roadblocks

Organization Vows to Continue Fight to Put Downward Pressure on Drug Prices


SUMMARY: The Senate approved the Dorgan-Snowe Amendment today, which would allow for the safe and legal importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad. The amendment was approved by a voice vote. The Dorgan-Snowe amendment sets up a system for the safe importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad, helping to alleviate our country's skyrocketing prescription drug prices. The amendment is part of S.1082, the Prescription Drug User Fee Amendments of 2007.

This amendment was "voice-voted" and no roll call exists.

SUMMARY: Unfortunately, the Senate also added a second-degree amendment to Dorgan-Snowe, creating an unnecessary roadblock for prescription drug importation. In a move designed to block importation, language was added prohibiting importation of prescription drugs unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify that it is safe to do so. Despite the fact that safety provisions are already built into the bill, this provision is designed to give unnecessary discretion to the Secretary to block importation. A vote for certification is a vote against the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs. AARP urged Senators to vote no on the 'certification' amendment.

    MARYLAND         VOTED YES ON                   VOTED NO ON

                     "Certification" -  gives       "Certification" - does not

                     the Secretary discretion       give the Secretary

                     to block importation           discretion to block


    Cardin, Benjamin                                       X

    Mikulski, Barbara          X

How a legislator votes on issues is only one factor in evaluating his or her legislative performance, which should also include such things as constituency services and committee work.

AARP Maryland State Director Joseph DeMattos, Jr., said, "AARP commends Senator Cardin for voting against the certification amendment, which would have created an unnecessary roadblock for safe and legal importation. He recognized the poison pill amendment as simply another attempt to keep importation from becoming a reality. The safe and legal importation of prescription drugs will help lower drug prices for millions of Americans. Our research shows manufacturer prices of the 200 brand name drugs most commonly used by older Americans rose at nearly twice the general inflation rate. The creation of a safe and legal system of importing lower-cost prescription drugs is one step toward lowering prescription drug prices."

DeMattos continued, "Unfortunately, Senator Mikulski backed a certification amendment, which effectively undercuts the safety provisions outlined in the Dorgan-Snowe amendment. Requiring the HHS Secretary to first 'certify' the safety of importation is intended to give the Secretary unnecessary discretion to prevent importation from becoming a reality."

AARP notified the 110th Congress that it was tracking roll call votes on key legislation important to its 38 million members, and reporting the outcomes of these votes back to its members. "We believe people make the right choices when they understand the issues and position taken by their elected officials. AARP intends to ensure that its members get that information," DeMattos concluded.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Prescription drug affordability remains a high priority for AARP and its members. The Dorgan-Snowe amendment offered today is a first step toward lowering the cost of medications in this country. The Association will continue to fight to make prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans. While millions of older Americans and persons with disabilities have been helped by Medicare Part D drug plans, more should be done to put downward pressure on drug costs. AARP will continue to support legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, and to help bring generic drugs to market sooner, including generic versions of biologic therapies. AARP is also working to pass legislation that would reduce the asset test that prevents low-income people from qualifying for extra help under the Medicare drug program.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

CONTACT: Tiffany Lundquist of AARP Maryland, +1-410-895-7614, cell,+1-410-869-2204

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Posted: May 2007

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