The Senate and House are trying to fix yet another of Bush’s unbelievable, secret actions. Last November, coincidentally about the time the new Medicare drug bill went into effect, the US Customs at the Canadian border started confiscating packages that appeared to be going to Americans from Canadian drug companies or pharmacies. Just to be sure this avenue for terrorists was closed off, they didn’t bother to tell the citizens that their package of medication had been confiscated. They didn’t even tell the Canadian pharmacies..
The LA Times reported last week on the problems the confiscations are causing and the controversies.
Americans — mostly seniors living on fixed incomes — spend billions of dollars on mail-order medications for chronic conditions such as high cholesterol and hypertension.
The medications sold by licensed Canadian pharmacies often are identical to those in the U.S. and may even come from the same factory. The big difference is price. Consumers north of the border — and in most other countries — typically pay a fraction of what U.S. customers do for brand-name pharmaceuticals.
“Customs did this without any kind of warning, and we felt that they were putting people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Andy Troszak, president of the Canadian International Pharmacy Assn.
“In many cases, our patients were caught without their needed medications.”
One report stated 40,000 packages had been collected. Some might be some going to the same households. But if 20,000 people did not get their blood pressure, diabetic or cardiac medications on time, what was the risk of them having a major complication or dying because of it? The justifications for this secret move are:
The Bush administration has opposed past calls to ease restrictions on the personal importation of prescription medications, contending that foreign-produced drugs may be unsafe. Some have also contended that controls were needed to prevent terrorists from importing dangerous substances disguised as drugs.
Ken Johnson, senior vice president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group, said the Senate proposal “undermines the government’s ability to assure the American public that our drug supply is safe and secure.”
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said the proposal would rip a “massive hole” in border security efforts.
The measure was introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who has called for an investigation of Customs’ seizures of seniors’ mail-order medications, and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). Vitter said he wanted Congress to send a message that Customs ought to focus on securing the nation against terrorism — not “stripping small amounts of prescription drugs from the hands of seniors.”
I guess Sen Gregg does not get what a “massive hole” our port security is. The chemical plants that are still unsecured. Rail lines. And BushCo can’t figure out the math and risks of terrorists using this avenue and killing X citizens versus how many seniors might be put at risk when they ran out of essential medicine.
Unfortunately, the fix is not quite done. The House and Senate versions have a 2 word difference that has to be resolved. The Senate version limits the confiscation of drugs ‘from Canada’, the House did not specify the limit. Can we check the final for a signing statement?
Makes me wonder how many seniors are going to vote GOP this November.