Importation of Rx drugs should be legalized

It's a sad reality that too many people in this country still cannot afford their prescription drugs. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which established a prescription drug benefit under Medicare Part D is a big step forward, but more needs to be done. (The new benefit begins Jan. 1, 2006.)

Currently, the cost for prescription drugs is rising at two and a half times the rate of inflation. AARP believes Rx drugs can be made more affordable by legalizing the importation of prescription drugs, beginning with Canada. This could be done with strict controls to ensure that people ordering their drugs from outside the U.S. do so from reputable pharmacies and distributors.

Right now, in almost every situation, it's illegal to import drugs from Canada, though millions of Americans are doing it along with many state and local governments across the country. Some medications can be acquired from a Canadian pharmacy at a third of what it costs here in the United States.

Because it's already happening, it's no longer a question of whether we should allow the importation of prescription drugs. That's why AARP is endorsing the Dorgan-Snowe bill that calls for legalizing Rx importation beginning with Canada. Dorgan-Snowe is a bipartisan bill that includes safety standards to ensure that drugs imported back into this country are safe, and gives the FDA authority and resources to help them in this effort.

AARP is urging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass the Dorgan-Snow bill because it's part of the answer to lowering the high cost of prescription drugs.

David Mitchell

AARP Arizona State Director

Phoenix, Ariz.

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