August 1, 2005

The Senate Commerce Committee has passed bipartisan drug importation legislation authored by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

Approved in a 14-8 vote, the legislation was attached as an amendment to a bill reauthorizing the FTC. The amendment is virtually identical to the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act, S.334, which Dorgan and Snowe introduced in January.

Dorgan and Snowe were hoping to push S.334 through the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, but there had been little movement on the bill since the committee first reviewed it in April.

"Despite broad recognition of the need - despite six years of legislative efforts - our constituents continue to wait for the federal government to act," Snowe said. "Many Americans have lost patience leaving nearly half the states across the country with no choice but to consider implementing their own drug importation programs, including my own great state of Maine. But this is a federal issue, and that is why there has been bipartisan support in Congress to pass legislation to ensure safe access to affordable medicines."

Dorgan and Snowe's legislation would allow American consumers, pharmacists and wholesalers to purchase FDA-approved drugs from FDA-approved facilities in 25 industrialized countries.