In case you were distracted by the war between the spooks over who won the Presidential election, you may have missed a salutary action by our esteemed Washington State Senators Cantwell and Murray. Presented with an amendment sponsored by Democratic Senators Klobuchar and Sanders which would have permitted US citizens to purchase lower-priced prescription drugs in Canada, they joined eleven other Democratic Senators and voted NO. Had all the Democrats voted Yes, the amendment would have passed with a super-majority.
Why, you may ask, did they vote against something which is official Democratic Party policy per the July 2016 Party Platform: “we will allow individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from licensed pharmacies in Canada and other countries with appropriate safety protections”? And for which the need and popular support are well-documented - here are a few examples of comparative drug prices in the USA v. Canada for identical drugs produced to the same standards in the same plants (from a 2013 study):
1) Enbrel US - $2,225 Canada - $1,646 + 35%
2) Celebrex US - $ 225 Canada - $ 51 +341%
3) Copaxone US - $3,903 Canada - $1,400 +179%
4) Cymbalta US $ 194 Canada - $ 110 + 76%
5) Humira US $2,246 Canada - $1,950 + 15%
6) Nexium US $ 215 Canada - $ 30 +616%
Well ask our Senators I did, with several phone calls to their offices and emails to their respective press secretaries on Friday. I received no response from either Senator Murray or her press secretary (but had a nice chat with an intern). Senator Cantwell’s press secretary Bryan Watt responded as follows:
”In terms of the Sanders Amendment, Senator Cantwell supports prescription drug importation, but has deep concerns around patient safety and counterfeit drugs that do not meet FDA standards being imported into the country and putting patient lives in danger.”
Really, Senator Cantwell? These are all drugs that are under patent and produced by the same companies in the same plants for both the Canadian and US markets. This excuse is about as convincing as “the dog ate my homework” or “the Russians stole the election” - it’s an insult to the intelligence. What’s the real reason? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the money you received from the pharmaceutical cartel ( Murray and Cantwell received $477,000 and $59,000 respectively since 2011)?
And, in case you were wondering, the reason drug prices are lower in Canada is that they have a single payer medical system with a national formulary and they negotiate prices with the drug companies. In the USA, we have Obamacare, which was designed originally by the Heritage Foundation and implemented first by Mitt Romney when he was governor of MA. And US legislation PROHIBITS price negotiation with the drug companies. The whole thing preserves and enhances the profits of the pharmaceutical and Health insurance cartels, who therefore charge as much as they can. And if you’re like me, with an Obamacare bronze plan with a $6,500 deductible and no drug plan, it just seems to be yet another betrayal by corporatist Democrats of their stated ideals. And a denial of a simple policy that would have saved every family in America money. The Democratic Party might want to consider that it’s just this kind of thing that cost them the House and the Senate, and gave us the lovely President Trump. Thanks so much for your service to the cartels.