From those wonderful folks who brought you drug importation: “World Pricing”

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  • 12/22/2006
Having a slow morning? Today at 10:30 a.m., U.S. Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) will announce bipartisan legislation aimed at “driving down the price of prescription drugs.” The Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act will be cosponsored in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) and in the United States Senate by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

So, you’d expect that these fine legislators to have a solid track record against protectionism, right? Nope.

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) fiercely protects against cheap imports from foreign countries when they negatively affects constituencies in her backyard. She supported the US Government’s findings that softwood lumber imports from Canada were subsidized and unfairly priced. “The implementation of the softwood lumber agreement this morning brings a successful resolution to a long and often difficult dispute,” Senator Snowe said. “This agreement levels the playing field for the softwood lumber industry and brings an end to the unfair subsidizing of the Canadian lumber industry that had threatened thousands of softwood lumber industry jobs in Maine.”

What about unfairly negotiated foreign prices for on-patent pharmaceuticals. Nope.

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is normally a staunch protectionist. Similar to Senator Snowe, Senator Dorgan staunchly defended the wheat farmers in North Dakota against subsidized imports of wheat from Canada. He went as far as to give Prairie Home Companion-worthy testimony about a family farmer at a recent Congressional hearing. He said, “The question for the "government," it seems to me that is posed by Kevin Neece and others is will someone finally stand up for family producers, for family farmers in this country and insist and demand unfair trade and insist and demand that our trading partners, in this instance Canada, comply with fair trade rules and comply with the agreements that were reached.”

What about unfairly negotiated foreign prices for on-patent pharmaceuticals that unfairly place the financial burden of R&D on the American health care consumer? Nada.

And the leader of the pack, Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), supported the Byrd Amendment. When the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 was passed, he co-wrote a dissenting opinion that stated: “Ensuring fair trade enables U.S. manufacturers and their workers to make continued investments to preserve their global competitiveness.”

What about unfair European trade practices that threaten pharmaceutical companies with patent expropriation if they don’t accept absurdly low “reference prices” for new and innovative products? Zilch.

But who needs consistency when you’ve got sound bites?

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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