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US votes for low cost prescription drug imports

The US House of Representatives has passed a law that will allow the importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from regions outside the US, including Canada, Australia and Europe.

The US House of Representatives has passed a law that will allow the importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from regions outside the US, including Canada, Australia and Europe.

The legislation follows the passing of a USD 91bn spending measure, which funds farm subsidies and nutrition programmes for the budget year starting from October 2007.

The bill faces a veto from President Bush over its price tag, while the administration also opposes the drug importation provision. It says it would effectively permit individuals, wholesalers and pharmacists to import lower cost US-made and FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada and other countries.

Under current law, US consumers are permitted to buy a 90-day supply in Canada.

Overseas drugs can cost two-thirds less than those in the US, where prices for brand-name drugs are among the highest globally. Outside the US, prices are lower because they are controlled by government regulation.

The White House says there is no system in place to protect consumers from counterfeit or unsafe drugs, but an administration policy statement stops short of an outright veto threat.

A move supported by drug companies to strike the drug importation provisions from the bill was defeated 283-146.

3rd August 2007

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