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Failure of Drug Importation Amendment in U.S. Senate is Latest Show of Industry's Controlling Hand in Health Reform Debate, According to Consumer Watchdog

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The failure of the U.S. Senate to allow importation of prescription drugs to cut costs, much less the more effective direct bulk purchasing of prescription drugs, is just the latest example of how big industry controls the health reform debate, according Consumer Watchdog.

"The proposed drug amendment by Senator Dorgan (D-ND) was a relatively modest proposal, far from President Obama's campaign pledge to allow Medicare to directly negotiate discounts with drug manufacturers," said Judy Dugan, Consumer Watchdog's research director. "The apparent loss of the public option, and the even more limited Medicare buy-in for those over 55, demonstrates the open and blatant puppeteering of the U.S. Congress health care debate by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries."

The U.S. should be importing Canadian and European drug policy, not their drugs, according to Consumer Watchdog. Drug importation would help some, but to provide all Americans the lower priced drugs they need, the U.S. must negotiate the discounts itself. Yet, the Senate defeated the drug importation amendment to appease the pharmaceutical manufacturers who charge higher prices for their prescription drugs in the U.S. than in any other developed country.

Consumer Watchdog, which sponsored "Rx Express" trains to take Americans to Canada to buy prescriptions, said that the U.S. Senate should have simply lifted the ban on the Medicare drug program from negotiating prescription drug prices and allowed any American, regardless of age, to join the new nationwide bulk purchasing pool.

"If Costco can do it, why can't Medicare?" said Carole Jaquez, an Rx Express rider. "The answer is simple: the drug industry just won't allow it because it would benefit Americans at the expense of the industry's lavish profits."

A group of U.S. seniors and other patients joined Consumer Watchdog in 2004 on two train trips to Canada -- dubbed the "Rx Express" -- to purchase lower cost prescriptions. The seniors and patients saved an average of 56.2% off the prices they pay for the same prescription drugs at U.S. pharmacies, or about $1,900 per year on the prescriptions. Read more at:

The U.S., with a population of 300 million -- roughly ten times that of Canada -- could negotiate even deeper discounts.

Watch the Rx Express documentary -- "Riding the Rails" on you tube (paste the full web links, below, into your web browser).

"Rx Express" documentary Part 1:

"Rx Express" documentary Part 2:

Recently, the City of Los Angeles became the first U.S. city to provide bulk discounts on prescription drugs for its residents. Read more at:

Consumer Watchdog is a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and Santa Monica, CA. Find us on the web at:

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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