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Senate kills drug re-importation

Dec. 15, 2009 at 9:47 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate voted narrowly Tuesday to kill a healthcare reform amendment intended to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from abroad.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, would have permitted U.S. consumers to purchase FDA-approved drugs from other nations that meet certain drug-safety standards. Supporters said such a measure could save Americans $80 billion over 10 years, The Washington Independent reported Tuesday.

However, the amendment was opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which has said it would commit to about $80 billion in savings for consumers over 10 years. The Senate voted 51-48 on a measure to end a filibuster on the amendment, effectively killing it.

Thirty Democrats and one Independent, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, voted against the re-importation amendment.

The White House had urged Democrats to oppose the amendment, the newspaper said.

Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Charles Grassley of Iowa were among those supporting re-importation.

The Senate also voted Tuesday to kill a watered-down version of the amendment, the Independent reported.

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