Friday, July 10, 2009
The Senate has dealt a blow to the drug lobby. It's voted to permit people in the United States to order lower-cost drugs from Canada over the Internet.
The prescription drug plan by Louisiana Republican David Vitter passed the Senate by a 55-36 vote. It was added to a $42.9-billion bill funding the Homeland Security Department. The Senate then approved the homeland security measure by an 84-6 vote Thursday night.
Critics say Vitter's amendment would open a gaping loophole that would expose people to Internet scams and unsafe drugs. But the allure of importing cheaper U.S.-made drugs from other countries has long had a pull on lawmakers.
But so too has the drug lobby, which has always defeated attempts to allow consumers widespread access to "reimported" drugs. Several Democratic leaders, including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Dick Durbin of Illinois, initially opposed Vitter's amendment, only switching their votes after it became clear the popular idea would pass.
Their doubts, however, could mean the provision won't survive negotiations with the House.