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Groups Backing DRUGS Act Funded by Pharmaceutical Lobby Cash

Klobuchar Flip Flops on Drug Importation; Rubio Chooses Pharma Cash Over Florida Seniors, Trump and DeSantis

(Washington, DC) – Legislation introduced late last week by Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Marco Rubio (FL) and Representatives David McKinley (WV) and Bobby Rush (IL), would rob seniors of affordable daily medications and is backed and paid for by front organizations for big pharmaceutical companies.

The DRUGS Act (‘Domain Reform for Unlawful Drug Sellers Act, S.3399 & H.R. 6352) raises alarms with the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI), which represents over 88,000 Americans who import prescription medications due to the exorbitantly high cost of medications in the U.S. An estimated 5 million Americans import medications from abroad, and the number is increasing annually.

“Klobuchar and Rubio’s DRUGS Act would rob millions of Americans of the daily prescription medications they need to live, yet often cannot afford due to skyrocketing drug prices,” said Jack Pfeiffer, Executive Director of the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation. “Additionally, nearly every endorser of the DRUGS Act is a Big Pharma front group. What is most appalling – at least one endorser of the DRUGS Act, a bill purported to stop the scourge of opioids, took $1 million from Purdue Pharma and even honored an executive with an award for her work at the company that makes OxyContin.”

The special interests backing the DRUGS Act include the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Coalition for Online Accountability, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers, National Association of the Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), National Consumer League, Partnership for Safe Medicines, Pharmaceutical Security Institute and RESOLVE. These groups are funded and/or led by board members that include PhRMA – the pharmaceutical industry’s chief lobbying arm – and pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, Amgen, Gilead, Eli Lilly, Merck, and Takeda and many others.

DRUGS Act supporter NABP took $1 million dollars from Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive opioid painkiller OxyContin. Purdue is attempting to deflect its own fault for launching the opioid crisis by offering a $4 billion settlement with forty-nine state attorneys general suing the company. The opioid crisis has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.

In the months leading up to the DRUGS Act introduction, the supposed “independent” backers were purporting that the bill would address illegal sales of opioids online using language suspiciously similar to language the two Senators are now using to peddle the bill.

“The DRUGS Act fails to even mention the words opioids or fentanyl. Instead, the bill targets ‘non-domestic’ pharmacies – pharmacies that millions of Americans depend on for safe and affordable drugs. Safe, licensed international pharmacies require valid prescriptions and don’t sell controlled substances. In truth, the special interest groups backing the DRUGS Act have made a habit of shamelessly using the opioid crisis to attack prescription importation from international pharmacies where Americans have been saving 50 to 90 percent on the same medicines,” Pfeiffer explained.

“For Senator Klobuchar, this is a sudden, disappointing, and inexcusable betrayal,” says Pfeiffer.

Previously, Klobuchar was a champion of bipartisan legislation to allow importation of safe affordable drugs from Canada for personal use. Just one year after entering the Senate in 2008, Klobuchar co-sponsored the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act and has been the Democratic lead author of the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act since 2014.

Marco Rubio’s support of the DRUGS Act puts him at odds with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to help Floridians access safe and affordable medicines from Canada. “Rubio’s decision to undercut Governor DeSantis and bipartisan efforts to expand access to safe and affordable medicines is unconscionable, while so many seniors suffer,” says Pfeiffer. “It is no surprise that Rubio’s campaign committees have raked in more than $500,000 from pharmaceutical interests in just the past three years.”

The DRUGS Act comes as nearly one in three Americans — triple the share since March— say they’ve skipped medications or medical care in the previous three months due to cost. AARP reported in June that retail prices for some of the most widely used brand name prescription drugs continue to increase at 200 percent the rate of inflation. At a time of record inflation, this bill removes the only solution a typical importation patient – a senior citizen on fixed income paying out-of-pocket – has to purchase medicine.

Importation of prescription drugs is broadly supported by the public on a bipartisan basis. According to multiple recent surveys, approximately 80 percent of Americans believe they should be able to legally import prescription drugs from Canada.

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