Webb joins bipartisan group in prescription-drug plan
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) today joined a bipartisan group of 19 senators in proposing an amendment to the health care reform bill to lower prescription drug costs and save the federal government nearly $20 billion over the next ten years. Originally introduced earlier this year as the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act, and supported at that time by Sen. Webb, the measure would allow American consumers to safely import lower-priced, Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs from other approved countries. The Senate is expected to consider the amendment in the coming days.
Drug prices in the U.S. have risen dramatically in recent years – a 9 percent jump in 2009 alone. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the amendment is estimated to save the federal government $19.4 billion over the next ten years. Lower drug prices would save American consumers an estimated $100 billion over the next decade.
The legislation contains strong safety provisions, limiting importation to FDA-approved prescription drugs produced in FDA-approved plants from countries with comparable safety standards. The legislation also contains safeguards to prohibit the importation of counterfeit drugs.
“Access to and affordability of quality health care services and prescription drugs are of paramount importance as we reform our health care system,” said Webb. “Americans are continually charged the world’s highest prices for prescription drugs, with 47 million Americans unable to afford the drugs that they need. I strongly support this amendment and others that encourage competition and help ensure that consumers have greater access to safe, affordable prescription drugs and health care services.”
“U.S. consumers are charged the highest prices in the world for FDA-approved prescription drugs, and that’s just not fair,” Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said. “This legislation has bipartisan support and will put downward pressure on prescription drug prices. It will save the federal budget nearly $20 billion over the next decade and will put downward pressure on prescription drug prices.”
“As we confront the ever-increasing cost of health care – which is projected to exceed $33 trillion in the coming decade – the imperative is clear that we must address rising costs, or affordable access to coverage simply cannot be achieved and sustained,” said Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine). “By implementing a safe prescription drug importation program, this amendment will increase competition within the domestic prescription drug market which, in turn, will ensure more Americans have access to affordable medications. This is a common sense approach that will guarantee Americans can safely secure the medications they rely on to improve their overall health and well-being.”
The bill has substantial bipartisan support, with Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), David Vitter (R-La.), Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) cosponsoring the amendment.