News Columns & Blogs

Drug companies get another payoff

The Senate failed this week to approve legislation that would allow consumers to import low-cost prescription drugs from other countries. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the plan would have saved the federal government $19 billion over the coming decade, and bill sponsor Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said it would have saved American consumers four times that amount. The Obama administration said it opposed the proposal on safety grounds. But given that there were safety precautions in the measure, and that President Obama supported allowing imports when he was a senator, it is more likely the administration was trying to maintain the pharmaceutical industry's support for the health reform legislation. That's similar to what happened when the GOP-led Congress added the Medicare drug benefit but prohibited the government from negotiating drug reported that the 30 Senate Democrats who voted to block imports received an average of $73,729 each in campaign contributions from drug companies over the past six years — 70 percent more than Democrats who voted in favor of imports.