Gorton introduces 'drug fairness' bill

Pharmaceutical Representative

The Prescription Drug Fairness Act, a bill that would eliminate price discrimination by American drug companies that sell drugs developed and manufactured in the United States to foreign countries at a dramatically lower price, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA).

The Prescription Drug Fairness Act, a bill that would eliminate price discrimination by American drug companies that sell drugs developed and manufactured in the United States to foreign countries at a dramatically lower price, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA).

"Every day, seniors and other Americans can save 50% to 70% on their drug bills simply by going to Canada or Mexico," said Gorton. "As long as we let our drug companies impose all of their research and development costs on American consumers, our seniors, uninsured and all other Americans will pay the price."

Gorton's bill would amend the Robinson-Patman Antidiscrimination Act, a 64-year-old law that prohibits price discrimination. Gorton's legislation would apply the Robinson-Patman Act to prescription drug sales between wholesalers in the United States and wholesalers outside the United States. The bill would mandate that manufacturers sell at one price to every wholesaler in the world, including wholesalers in countries that have government mandated price controls. It would also amend the Clayton Antitrust Act to declare illegal any sale by a manufacturer to any wholesaler anywhere in the world at a different price.

"[Drug companies] know that they can simply raise prices in the United States, if other countries negotiate or regulate to win lower prices. American consumers should not be subject to this kind of price discrimination," said Gorton, "especially for products that are vitally important to preserving our health."

Industry responds

"Americans know that there are no magic solutions for those who cannot afford their medicines because they lack good insurance drug coverage," said PhRMA President Alan F. Holmer. "They know better than to place control of American pharmaceutical pricing in the hands of foreign government bureaucrats. The American people will reject price controls because they are not in the long-term interest of patients."

Added Holmer: "This smacks of the worst of the nationalized price control systems in the world and would set prices below those of foreign countries that explicitly ration healthcare and limit access to medicines."

Holmer stressed the pharmaceutical industry's willingness to help Congress find a way to help seniors while preserving the ability of the industry to develop innovative medicines. PR