In a statement (external - login to view) to the media after the vote, Booker’s office said he supports the importation of prescription drugs but that “any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards. I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test.”
The safety excuse is mostly a chimera, as most of the drugs that would be imported from Canada were originally manufactured in the United States; they’re just cheaper there, because the Canadian government uses a review board and price negotiation to make drugs more affordable.
“My first response to that is show me the dead Canadians. Where are the dead Canadians?” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, once asked (external - login to view) during his own push to allow for importation.
“The Democratic Party has got to make it very clear that they are prepared to stand up to powerful special interests like the pharmaceutical industry and like Wall Street, and they’re not going to win elections and they’re not going to be doing the right thing for the American people unless they have the guts to do that,” Sen. Sanders said. “That 13 Democrats did not is disappointing. I absolutely hope that in the coming weeks and months you’re going to see many of them develop the courage to stand up to Pharma.”
Sen. Booker responded to a constituent’s tweet by claiming his “nay” vote was to protect American consumers from potentially harmful ingredients in the drugs, as the amendment didn’t include additional protections for the imported drugs.
Sanders scoffed at the excuse, ...
“If we can import vegetables and fish and poultry and beef from all corners of the Earth, please don’t tell me that we cannot bring in, from Canada and other major countries, name brand prescription drugs of some of the largest corporations in the world,” Sanders said. “That’s a laughable statement.”
Bernie Sanders Shreds Fellow Democrats Who Voted with Big Pharma (external - login to view)
But the Clinton Dems have been there before........
Touting her commitment to lowering healthcare costs, Hillary Clinton this week unveiled a plan (external - login to view) that she says will drive down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. The initiative from the Democratic presidential candidate was billed as a challenge to the pharmaceutical industry -- but it is also a rebuke of some of the major pharmaceutical policies of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
During her Iowa campaign event announcing the initiative, Clinton said she wants to allow Americans to purchase medicines from other countries at the lower prices charged there. “If the medicine you need costs less in Canada, you should be able to buy it from Canada, or any country that meets our safety standards,” she said.
As a New York senator, Clinton voted for legislation to allow importation. However, when Congress in 2000 passed such bipartisan legislation, Bill Clinton’s administration used its executive authority (external - login to view) to prevent an importation program from being implemented. At the time, Clinton’s administration said drugs imported from countries like Canada would be unsafe, later prompting bill proponents (external - login to view) to demand to see evidence of mass Canadian casualties from fraudulent drugs. A federal judge recently ruled (external - login to view) that the federal ban on importation invalidates Maine’s first-in-the-nation state statute designed to permit importation.
Candidate Clinton also said that government agencies like Medicare should be able to use their market power to negotiate lower drug prices and that pharmaceutical companies should be able to retain exclusive patent rights to medicines for only a “reasonable period of time.” But as secretary of state, her aides worked on -- and she repeatedly (external - login to view) promoted (external - login to view) -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a partnership that critics say includes provisions that could thwart such proposals.
The consumer watchdog group Public Citizen (external - login to view) said a recent leak of the still-secret partnership's text shows it would “reduce the capability of the government to negotiate lower prices” by subjecting them to trade rules.
According to the Center for American Progress (external - login to view) -- which has close ties to the Clintons and is run by Hillary Clinton’s former policy aide (external - login to view) -- the Clinton-backed partnership’s patent provisions “will raise drug prices and hinder access to critical medications.” Economist Dean Baker at the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research has written (external - login to view) that those pact provisions build off World Trade Organization rules backed by President Clinton that toughened international patent protections for drugs.