Issues: Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are a critical component of our health care system. In 2003, Congress had a chance to pass a prescription drug benefit that would strengthen and modernize Medicare — but, instead, the plan proposed by President Bush and passed by the Republican Congress missed that opportunity because it was so beneficial to the pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

The prescription drug benefit is confusing. Also, many seniors actually have less coverage now than they did before the new benefit was passed. Americans are looking to their leaders for solutions. That’s why Carl Levin recently introduced the Medicare Part D Reform Act (S. 2240), legislation that would make prescription drugs more accessible and affordable for our seniors.

But high drug prices aren’t just a problem for our senior citizens — they’re a problem for millions of other Americans as well. In 2003, Carl Levin’s office conducted a study of pricing on the ten most frequently-prescribed drugs. In every case, the drug in America was priced higher than the very same drug in Canada — on average, 34 percent higher.

That’s why Carl Levin co-sponsored legislation in 2005, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act (S. 334), that would authorize the re-importation of FDA-approved medications from Canada — so Americans can buy American-made drugs at Canadian prices.

The American people shouldn’t be required to subsidize the low-costs of prescription drugs abroad. Congress needs to address this problem, so Americans no longer have to make difficult trade-offs between expensive prescription drugs and their basic necessities like food and housing.