- June 10 - Public Citizen welcomes the Senate introduction of the International
Drug Parity Act of 1999, sponsored by U.S. Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Paul Wellstone
(D-Minn.), Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) and two others.
"This important legislation can save U.S. consumers billions of dollars by
allowing the safe reimportation of American-made, FDA-approved prescription drugs from
foreign distributors," said Peter Lurie, M.D., medical researcher at Public Citizens Health Research Group. "This bill challenges
current U.S. laws that protect a double standard for drug prices -- high at home, low
Currently, only U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers are allowed to reimport drugs. S.
1191 levels the international playing field for drug prices by allowing American
wholesalers, distributors and pharmacists to reimport prescription drugs made in the
United States that were shipped to foreign distributors. The bill provides for a labeling
and record-keeping system to ensure that all reimported drugs meet U.S. safety standards.
"The International Drug Parity Act reverses discriminatory pricing practices by
American pharmaceutical manufacturers who charge Americans much higher prices than they
charge foreign consumers for the same U.S.-manufactured drugs," said Public Citizen
President Joan Claybrook. "The bill would make it legal to reimport U.S.-made drugs
and sell them to U.S. consumers at the lower foreign price."
Studies by Public Citizens Health Research Group and others demonstrate that many
U.S.-made pharmaceutical drugs cost as much as 20 to 50 percent less abroad because
foreign governments negotiate lower prices with American pharmaceutical companies. The International
Drug Parity Act permits American distributors to bring brand name medications made in the
United States back into our country at those reduced prices.
"Americans, especially our senior citizens, should not subsidize lower drug prices
for the Swiss or the French," Claybrook said. "If foreigners can enjoy the
benefits of U.S. pharmaceutical research and pay less, so should we."
Pharmaceutical interests contend the legislation may open our borders to unsafe drugs.
Lurie responded: "Thats nonsense. These drugs are made by Americans in American
factories according to American standards with American consumer protections."