One of my top priorities when I came to the U.S. Senate in 2004 was to help lower the cost of prescription medications. As I hold town hall meetings across the state, many seniors recount stories of their struggles to afford the high price of prescription medications in our country.
I believe one way to put affordable prescription drugs within the reach of all Americans is to allow the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries.
This month we had an important victory in this fight to bring cheaper prescription drugs to all Americans when the U.S. Senate passed an amendment I authored to break down an artificial barrier preventing our residents from getting cheaper prescription medicines.
My amendment will stop Customs and Border Protection agents from confiscating prescribed drugs at our borders. Medicines that have passed rigorous testing and clinical trials by the FDA and are accompanied by a valid prescription should not be taken away from our citizens upon their return to the United States. And our customs and border officials should be concentrating on the real issues of stopping dangerous criminals and terrorists from entering the country and stopping them from bringing harmful weapons and illegal drugs to the United States. Protecting American citizens should be their top priority, not seizing a seniorís heart medication.††
For years, while America bears the cost of producing prescription drugs, many Americans – most of whom are seniors – have chosen to buy their medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies. These FDA approved medications are available for significantly lower prices than they would otherwise be in the United States.
It is no secret that Americans pay more for necessary medication than any other industrialized nation. For example, constituents tell me their Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug, is 40 percent less expensive in Canada than it is in the United States. Moreover, the ulcer medication Prevacid costs 50 percent less when purchased just a few miles north of our border.
These prescription drugs would not be permitted to pass through our borders in mass quantities to be sold in our country. My amendment will aid individual Americans that deserve better access to necessary medication prescribed to them. Similar legislation has also been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I will be working with my colleagues to make sure it is included in the final bill.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts on how the U.S. Senate can make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible. Please contact me with your ideas at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov.
David Vitter serves Louisiana in the United States Senate.