Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 20, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

CHEAP DRUGS....This just cracks me up. First, the Senate votes to allow importation of drugs from Canada:

For the second time in less than a year, the Senate voted overwhelmingly today to allow American pharmacists to buy prescription drugs in Canada, where they sell for less, and resell them in the United States, a procedure that many people believe will curb the price of drugs.

Why are drugs cheaper in Canada? Because they're purchased by the various provincial governments, who drive a hard bargain with the pharmaceutical companies. However, although the Senate is in favor of taking neighborly advantage of Canada's governmental efficiency, the Bush administration is not, apparently making the laughable argument that "such imports will open the United States to new threats in an era of worries over terrorism."

OK then, maybe our government should do the buying so we can apply proper American safeguards against al-Qaeda tampering with the nation's drug supply? You might think so, but the Bush administration is opposed to this too. In fact, they are even opposed to the U.S. government doing this in areas where there are no private insurers who offer drug coverage:

"The 'fallback' provisions are a government-run delivery system for prescription drugs which could lead to government pricing of individual drugs and government regulation of the availability of certain prescription drugs," the White House said on Thursday.

In addition, the Senate wants to crack down on pharmaceutical industry abuse of federal patent laws that keeps cheap generic drugs off the market, but the hardliners in the House are balking. This is actually an attempt to prevent pharmaceutical companies from using government regulation in order to stifle competition, but the supposed "small government" conservatives led by Tom DeLay want no part of it.

So apparently Republicans think that government intervention is bad if it might reduce the price of drugs, but they also think that reducing government intervention is bad if it might reduce the price of drugs. I sense a pattern here.

Kevin Drum 5:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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