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AARP Presses Case for Rx Importation

AARP testified today before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in support of the safe and legal importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad. Today’s testimony comes on the heels of an AARP Rx Watchdog Report released yesterday which showed that many of the most commonly used brand name drugs for older adults rose at nearly double the pace of inflation during 2006.

“Americans shell out more of their hard-earned money than our Canadian neighbors do for the very same prescription drugs. There’s no question that we’re getting a raw deal. Congress can and should act to help lower the price of prescription drugs through common sense fixes like safe and legal importation,” said AARP Board of Directors member Nelda Barnett, who testified during today’s hearing.

Americans pay among the highest prices for brand name prescription drugs in the world or, worse yet, don’t fill prescriptions because they cannot afford to pay for them. Sky-high drug prices are particularly burdensome for older Americans, who use more prescription drugs more than any other segment of the U.S. population. While Medicare Part D has brought needed relief to millions, AARP surveys demonstrate that our 38 million members regard drug prices as the single most significant barrier to obtaining needed medications.

“If pharmaceutical companies can manufacture prescription drugs all over the world and safely bring them into the U.S., then a similar system can be devised to ensure the same for consumers. Americans need access to lower-priced prescription drugs,” continued Barnett.

The importation of prescription drugs importation is not the sole solution to soaring drug prices in the U.S. However, AARP believes that a system providing for the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs can serve to put downward pressure on drug prices and will permit consumers to realize some savings on the cost of their prescription drugs.

In January, AARP endorsed the bipartisan “Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007” (S. 242, H.R. 380), which would legalize the importation of FDA-approved medications from certain countries beginning with Canada, impose strict safety standards to prevent drug counterfeiting, and include important provisions to prevent potential trade obstructions. The legislation was introduced by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and by Representatives Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO).

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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