The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the prescription drug industry's main lobbying group, helped coordinate a U.S. Senate campaign against a bill that would allow U.S. consumers and pharmacies to reimport drugs from industrial nations, The New York Times reports. The group even helped draft a letter, signed by 53 senators, against the measure. The letter was released on July 24 to coincide with the House vote on the bill, which was approved 243-186. The bill would allow for the reimportation of U.S.-made drugs from Canada and other industrialized countries, where they can be bought for as little as half the price charged for them in the United States. The letter expressed opposition to the bill because of perceived safety risks to U.S. consumers and because the House bill does not include a clause allowing the Health and Human Services secretary to certify that reimported drugs are safe.
Documents obtained by the Times show that Derrick White, director of federal affairs for PhRMA, informed Senate Republican aides that he was assisting Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in drafting the opposition letter and in encouraging other senators to sign it. Santorum said the industry organization's involvement with the opposition campaign was meant only to save time in getting the letter circulated as quickly as possible. But congressional sources told the Times that PhRMA's involvement in the opposition effort isn't surprising and that it "offers a glimpse into the aggressive efforts by the pharmaceutical manufacturers to defeat the import provision."