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AARP Supports Bipartisan Rx Importation Bill

AARP today endorsed the bipartisan Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007, which will permit the safe, legal importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad.

The legislation was introduced today by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME); Representatives Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) are sponsoring companion House legislation. The bill legalizes the importation of FDA-approved medications from certain countries beginning with Canada, imposes strict safety standards to prevent drug counterfeiting, and includes important provisions to prevent potential trade obstructions.

"It's an embarrassment that the very same medications Americans pay top dollar for in the U.S. cost so much less in Canada and Europe. Americans are getting a raw deal," said AARP CEO Bill Novelli. "AARP is proud to support the Dorgan-Snowe bill because it will help make lifesaving prescription drugs available to Americans at prices they can afford."

Following is the text of the letter sent by Novelli to prime sponsors of the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007:

AARP is pleased to endorse your bill, the "Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007," which will provide for the safe, legal importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad. We applaud your continued leadership on this important measure to help reduce prescription drug costs.

While millions of Americans are benefiting from the Medicare prescription drug program, millions more lack access to affordable health care and thus are paying among the highest prices for their needed medications. What's more, prescription drug prices continue to rise at an unsustainable rate. AARP's latest Rx Watchdog report released in January 2007 found that prices for nearly 200 of the brand name medications most commonly used by older Americans rose 6.2 percent during the 12 month period from October 2005 to September 2006 - a rate 2.5 percentage points more than the 3.7 percent of general inflation. These drug price increases are particularly burdensome for older Americans, who use prescription drugs more than any other segment of the U.S. population.

In the quest for lower-priced prescription drugs, many Americans are already importing prescription drugs from abroad. Your legislation would create a framework for the safe, legal importation of prescription drugs that will better protect the health and pocketbooks of those desperate for lower priced drugs. We are also very pleased to see that your legislation includes a number of safety requirements including inspections and measures to prevent the counterfeiting of imported drugs. We also believe the phase—in set out in the legislation will enable better management of the new structure. Finally, no importation system could function if entities (particularly pharmaceutical manufacturers) were allowed to shut off supply of their product. Your legislation grants the Federal Trade Commission the authority to prevent this abuse.

We look forward to working with you and your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact this needed legislation.

AARP is also putting the full force of its nearly 38 million members behind efforts to pass the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 4), another legislative tool that could help lower prescription drug costs for older Americans.

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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