Sunday, March 06, 2005

Dueling gums

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:55 AM |  

He may be good enough, smart enough, and people may like him, but doggone it, Al Franken just doesn’t get it when it comes to re-importation of prescription drugs.

In today’s Pioneer Press in a letter headed “A toothless bill,” Franken responds to a February 25 article, “Franken's campaign target: Norm Coleman's teeth,” clarifying his position on Sen. Norm Coleman’s position on prescription drugs. He writes --
Coleman's spokesman asserts that he [Coleman] co-authored an amendment to allow drug re-importation. That amendment, S.2493, did nothing to stop pharmaceutical companies from clamping down on wholesale supplies to Canada — rendering re-importation meaningless. It was put forward to supplant S.2328, a bipartisan amendment that would have really allowed seniors access to lower-cost medicine. Coleman's was a "toothless bill," favored by the pharmaceutical industry.”
Doggone it, Al, the ability of pharmaceutical companies to “clamp down on wholesale supplies to Canada” is precisely what gives S.2493 its teeth. If, as is called for in S.2328, pharmaceutical companies are prevented from enforcing their legitimate non-resale contracts with Canadian distributors, then the United States is, indeed, re-importing Canadian price controls and effectively crippling pharmaceutical R&D research.

But allow re-importation, which should never have been banned in the first place -- and force the pharmaceutical companies to police their own contracts and you’re going to see the price differential between the United States and Canada moderate -- Canadians pay a a little more, Americans pay a little less.

My column “Senate prescription bill a free market placebo” makes that case, and the post “Mark Dayton -- Free market champion?” refutes a Mark Dayton Pioneer Press column that attacks my position.