That Washington

Sens. Cantwell and Murray Vote No on Health Care Amendment to Allow Cheaper Prescription Drug Imports

By Josh Feit December 16, 2009

To the chagrin of liberal consumer groups, a proposal by U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) to allow cheaper prescription drugs to be imported into the U.S. from countries like Canada failed to get the 60 votes it needed last night.

It lost 51-48.

On the nay list: Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. And oh, what the heck, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT).

Sen. Murray's spokeswoman Alex Glass tells PubliCola: "It's a concern over safety. She agrees that prescription drug prices are too high, but she wants to ensure that the drugs Americans buy are safe."

Cantwell's spokeswoman Katharine Lister seconded the point, saying: "We support FDA approved importation for safety reasons."

There was a separate vote on a proposal by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to allow imports that were approved by the FDA. It also needed 60 votes—and lost 56-43. Sens. Murray and Cantwell voted for that one.

The Obama administration opposed the Dorgan amendment in a deal with the pharmaceutical industry—guaranteeing that the industry wouldn't oppose health care reform.

Candidate Obama, however, said he supported importation on the trail last year.

And Obama even co-sponsored Dorgan's bill in the past when he was Sen. Obama.

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