In a recent 43-54 vote, the U.S. Senate defeated a proposed amendment to the FDA Safety and Innovation Act (S.3187), which we previously reported on here, that would have allowed Americans to purchase drugs from Canadian pharmacies. The Amendment, proposed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sought to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans.
In the days leading up to the vote, McCain had been critical of the pharmaceutical industry for lobbying the Senate to defeat the Amendment. "In a normal world, this would probably require a voice vote, but what we're about to see is the incredible influence of the special interests, particularly pharma, here in Washington, that keeps people who cannot--that have to make a choice between eating and medicine," McCain said. "So what you're about to see is the reason for the cynicism that people have for the way we do things in Washington. Pharma, one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, will exert its influence again at the expense of average, low income Americans who, again, will have to choose between medication and eating."
While the Amendment was defeated, several fellow Republicans voiced support for McCain's proposal. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), a proponent of importation of Canadian pharmaceuticals, reasoned that allowing importation would provide economic incentives. "I have always considered drug importation a free-trade issue," Grassley said. "Imports create competition and keep domestic industry more responsive to consumers. If Americans could legally and safely access prescription drugs outside the United States, then drug companies will be forced to re-evaluate their pricing strategies."