Four Bills on Gov’s Desk Today Allow Rx Importation and Bulk Purchasing
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Wednesday, September 15, 2004 — Santa Monica, CA– As Governor Schwarzenegger receives today four state legislative proposals for prescription drug importation and bulk purchasing, a new national survey found that 34% of Americans have already, or plan to purchase lower cost prescriptions from Canada and other nations.
“Governor Schwarzenegger should stand by his commitment to be a Governor for the people and sign this legislation so that 1 out of 3 patients don’t have to travel to Canada,” said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) which recently organized a chartered train trip to Canada with seniors and other patients in conjunction with survey sponsor, the Civil Society Institute. “Drug companies continue to gouge Americans to protect their status as the most profitable industry in the world.”
The new survey — available by clicking here — found that among Americans with health care insurance who purchase prescription drugs:
* One-third(34%) are either already purchasing (6%) or planning to purchase (33%)lower costs prescriptions from pharmacies in Canada or other nations.
* Nearly two in ten (18 percent) say they either skip medications or reduce dosages to “stretch” their medication due to high costs. This percentage equates to over 20 million Americans.
* Eight of ten (83%) say that the U.S. should follow the lead of other nations and negotiate bulk discounts on prescription drugs.
Prescription drugs are available in Canada, England, Ireland and other countries at 30-60% less than in the United States because those countries control drug prices and negotiate rates on behalf of all patients — a move that drug companies have blocked in the U.S.
Four proposals available today for Governor Schwarzenegger’s approval or veto would provide for direct bulk purchasing of prescriptions (AB 1958) and drug importation from Canada (SB 1349, SB 1144, AB 1957).
Under pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, President Bush opposed bulk purchasing in the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law which banned the Medicare program from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical companies. While Senator Kerry has supported changes to the Medicare drug law to allow bulk discounting, neither candidate has supported a program that would allow any American to participate regardless of age.
The survey also found that:
* Three out of four American adults (78%) agreed that health care is necessary like water, gas and electricity and should be “regulated by the government.”
* Three out of four Americans (78%) support requiring state permission before health insurance companies can raise premiums.
* Three out of five conservatives (61%) agree that health care should be regulated like utilities.
These findings bolsters consensus themes uncovered by FTCR’s California Health Consensus Project which developed a model health care ballot initiative following a 2 year process of town halls and focus groups with health care stake holders. Click here to read the California Health Consensus Project report and model ballot initiative.
According to analysis by FTCR, Governor Schwarzenegger has received over $327,200 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies. No other U.S. governor or federal official appears to have raised more money from the pharmaceutical industry in the same time period other than the presidential candidates.
During the week of August 23, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights chartered a train — dubbed the Rx Express — taking seniors and other patients to Canada to buy lower cost prescriptions. The 20 patients saved an average of 59.8% off the prices they pay for the same prescription drugs at U.S. pharmacies. The Rx Express riders would save an average of $2,000.00 per year on the prescriptions. FTCR is planning a second Rx Express trip for the week of October 11 to take seniors and other patients from Miami to Toronto.
The RFA survey results are based upon telephone surveys conducted by Opinion Research Corporation among a national probability sample of 1,020 adults 18 and older living in private households in the continental United States. The survey was conducted September 2-5, 2004. Completed interviews were weighted by four variables: age, sex, geographic region, and race, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total adult population. The margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level is plus or minus three percentage points for the entire sample. Smaller sub-groups will have larger error margins.
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Results for America (www.ResultsforAmerica.org) is a project of the Civil Society Institute, which is based in Newton, Massachusetts. The mission of CSI is to serve as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business, that can help to improve society. Click here to visit Civil Society Institute on the web.