Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John McCain (R-AZ) had a pretty good, if short-lived, idea the other day.
They introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act. Americans currently paying way too much for medicine life-saving drugs would be allowed to import those meds from Canada, at a huge discount.
But on Thursday, a Republican majority senators with the help of 13 Democrats -- all people who take tons of cash from pharmaceutical companies, according to OpenSecrets.org -- voted against it.
Which is too bad. Americans would be able to save hundreds of dollars on common pharmaceuticals if they could only buy from Canada. A 2015 study by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan foundation that supports health research, found that compared to 12 other wealthy, industrialized nations, the United States has some of the sickest people despite spending the most on healthcare.
And here’s a price comparison chart from the Canadian International Pharmacy Association:
A number of the Senate naysayers, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) -- who’d become a progressive hero for a hot minute after testifying against Trump attorney general pick Jeff Sessions -- claimed they voted against cheaper drugs because they couldn’t be sure that Canadian drugs were safe to use.
That’s odd. It's not like Canada's a Third World country. And one could argue that its government does a much better job of protecting citizens than ours does.
Besides, the legislation would direct the FDA to publish online a list of approved Canadian pharmacies to buy from, and the drugs would be dispensed by a licensed American pharmacy. It would require the imported drugs to have the same active ingredients, in the same dosage, as their American counterparts.
Plus, the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act would mostly just add a layer of legitimacy and consumer safety to something that desperate Americans already do.
According to the FDA, it is illegal for individuals to import drugs that haven’t been approved for use and sale in the United States. However, the FDA’s never going to object to folks importing a personal supply just as long as the drug in question isn’t considered unreasonably risky.
Oh well. It would be a great idea, if only the Senate would have put America before its corporate masters.