A pharmacist fills a prescription.
Credits: DAMIEN WOOD/QMI AGENCY
H.R. 5651 -- the Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012 -- was passed Wednesday by a vote of 387-5.
Among other things, it gives the FDA new authority to prevent drug shortages and speed reviews of medical devices. The bill also addresses the matter of drugs imported from abroad, including those deemed safe by Health Canada.
When the Senate debated the bill last week, former presidential candidate and senator from Arizona, John McCain, wanted an amendment that would allow individual Americans to bring in prescription drugs under certain conditions.
Amendment 2107, Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada, would have permitted the import of drugs that were: Purchased from a licensed pharmacist, from an approved pharmacy in Canada; purchased for personal use; issued by a doctor licensed to practice in the US; and has the same specifications as a drug approved by the FDA.
His amendment was struck down 54-43.
Not only may Americans not bring medications across the border, but section 805 of the 296-page bill passed by the House Wednesday authorizes officials to destroy any shipment of prescription drugs valued at $2,000 or less, for any reason.
"Clearly, this provision protects the interests of big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of the tens of thousands of Americans who rely on importation for access to their needed medicines," said a Canada-based coalition of North American pharmacists called RxRights.
Senator Bernie Sanders was the lone "no" vote when the Senate passed the bill 96-1, saying in a statement, "Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for their medicine ... (This bill) does far too little to address this crisis."