September 09, 2004

Oregon Lawmakers Urge Sec. Thompson to Approve Governor's Drug Reimportation Plan

WASHINGTON, DC-Several Oregon lawmakers today sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, asking that he expeditiously approve Oregon's Pioneer Prescription Drug Project, a plan proposed by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski which permits Oregon pharmacists to reimport drugs from licenced and inspected Canadian drug wholesalers. The signers-Senator Ron Wyden, and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Darlene Hooley, David Wu and Earl Blumenauer-hope for speedy approval of the drug reimportation plan which could significantly reduce the costs of pharmaceuticals for all Oregonians. "Oregonians desperately need relief from the debilitating costs of pharmaceutical drugs," said DeFazio. "While reimportation is not a panacea, it will help ease the stress on seniors and others who can't afford to fill their prescriptions and pay their bills every month. The Bush administration, in concert with well-connected drug companies have resorted to scare tactics, claiming reimported drugs from Canada are unsafe. The truth is that the drug supply chain in Canada is safer and more closely regulated than the drug supply chain in the U.S. Since Secretary Thompson agreed that drug reimportation was 'inevitable,' I hope he will break from the usual scare tactics and quickly approve this plan." "This proposal can literally be a life-saver for thousands of Oregonians, who will receive both real savings and an additional measure of safety when they buy the medicines they need," said Wyden. "It's also vital that under the Oregon plan, the pharmacist's role in managing patient care and safety will be preserved. This would be a positive step forward for the health of folks across the state." "It's outrageous that Americans continue to pay higher prices for the same prescription drugs than anywhere else in the world," said Blumenauer. "Under the Governor's plan, Oregonians would see some relief. The administration should quit its foot dragging and approve the Oregon plan without delay." "Oregonians can't afford the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs here at home," said Hooley. "But they also can't afford trips to Canada to keep their medicine cabinets stocked with the lifesaving drugs they require at prices they can afford. The governor's plan will ensure that Oregonians have local access to the medicines that they need at more affordable prices." "Oregonians deserve the opportunity to purchase prescription drugs in a way that ensures safety and reduces their costs," said Wu. "The Oregon Pioneer Prescription Drug Project does this. I urge Secretary Thompson to approve this innovative, safe and cost savings project " (The text of the letter follows) September 9, 2004 The Honorable Tommy Thompson Secretary U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 200 Independence Ave. SW Washington, DC 20201 Dear Secretary Thompson: We urge you to expeditiously approve Oregon''s Pioneer Prescription Drug Project, outlined in Governor Kulongoski''s August 12, 2004 letter to you. The Oregon Project would permit only Oregon pharmacists to purchase drugs from Canadian pharmaceutical wholesalers licensed and inspected by the Oregon Board of Pharmacy (OBP) to assure standards for reimportation specified in Section 1121 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 have been met. In addition, the proposal will ensure cost savings by only including pharmaceuticals for which reimportation would result in savings. As you know, many consumers, including Oregonians, are already purchasing their drugs through the Internet or other unregulated means. The Oregon Project will assure the health and safety of Oregonians through a regulated importation system. As you may also know, Oregon has long been at the forefront in developing innovative solutions to public policy challenges, and the Oregon Project is no exception. We look forward to working with you to ensure the success of Oregon's Pioneer Prescription Drug Project, and urge approval so Oregon may implement this proposal swiftly. Sincerely, RON WYDEN U.S. Senator PETER DeFAZIO Member of Congress EARL BLUMENAUER Member of Congress DARLENE HOOLEY Member of Congress DAVID WU Member of Congress