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Capitol Health Call
June 9, 2004

Price Blame Game

JAMA. 2004;291(22):2691. doi:10.1001/jama.291.22.2691-c

Supporters of plans to allow the reimportation of drugs to the United States from other countries seized on the Medicare card controversy to exert pressure on lawmakers to legalize the practice.

The Food and Drug Administration held several forums this spring to debate the safety of reimported drugs, while Congressional hearings focused on whether the United States unfairly shoulders the worldwide costs of drug research and development.

At a joint hearing of the Health Care and Foreign Trade Subcommittees, Sen John Kyl (R, Ariz) blamed foreign price controls for high US drug prices, arguing that high prices here subsidize lower prices overseas. He said that allowing US residents to reimport foreign drugs amounted to an importation of unfair price controls. Other senators, including Max Baucus (D, Mont), argued that legalizing reimportation would be an important stopgap while international trade talks proceeded.

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