July 11, 2000
In its latest move to battle high prescription medication costs, the House yesterday "overwhelmingly" approved amendments to an FDA appropriations bill that would prevent the agency from enforcing the law against importing medications, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. While cost controls in Canada, Europe and Mexico mean medications can cost several times less there than they do in the United States, U.S. residents are technically prohibited from importing those cheaper prescription drugs. But an amendment approved by the House on a 363-12 vote would prevent the FDA from enforcing the importation ban, as long as the medications are for personal use. A second amendment, approved 370-12, would prevent the FDA from sending warning letters to individuals who import medications. FDA spokesperson Lawrence Bachorik said that the FDA is concerned that the legislation will undermine the agency's "ability to protect consumers and patients from substandard, poorly manufactured or otherwise risky drugs," but he added that the FDA "stands ready to work with Congress on these issues"