"Are Your Drugs Safe?" [October 15] about the U.S. prescription drug industry's concern over the safety of lower-priced prescription drug imports missed an important point.
Even as the drug companies tell us drugs manufactured abroad are inherently risky, U.S. drug companies have opened their own manufacturing facilities all over Europe and Asia. The practice is so widespread that 40 percent of the active ingredients contained in drugs sold in the United States now come from China and India. Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe and I introduced legislation earlier this year (S. 242) that would allow the safe importation of lower-priced prescription drugs. It would require and pay for inspections of foreign drug manufacturing facilities that are not being done today by the Food and Drug Administration. It would require the use of proven anticounterfeiting technologies and limit drug importation to FDA-approved drugs manufactured in FDA-inspected and approved facilities and imported only through FDA-approved wholesalers. We would also require that a pedigree for each shipment be provided. The drug industry, which charges Americans the highest prices in the world for prescription medicines, opposes it. The drug companies prefer to keep the $50 billion our legislation would save consumers. It is wrong that U.S. consumers pay 35 to 50 percent more for the same prescription drugs available around the world at a fraction of the price.
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan