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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2006

Governor Blagojevich calls on Leaders in Congress to give Americans full access to the global marketplace for safe and affordable prescription drugs
Governor’s urges Republican leaders not to back down on agreement made yesterday to allow Americans to buy 90-day supplies of medication in Canada; calls for more meaningful action to bring long-term relief from high drug costs

CHICAGO – Continuing pressure on the federal government to allow importation of safe and affordable prescription drugs, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today urged members of the United States Congress to take meaningful action that will give Americans full access to the competitive global marketplace for prescription drugs.  Earlier today, news reports indicated House Republican leaders were backing down on an agreement reached yesterday that would allow Americans to bring up to 90-day supplies of prescribed medicines home from Canada, but would still prohibit purchasing prescriptions over the Internet or by mail-order, or from licensed pharmacies in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
 
“On behalf of Illinois citizens, I am writing to urge you to not back down on the agreement you made yesterday on H.R. 5441, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2007, that if enacted would allow citizens to bring up to 90-day supplies of prescribed medicines home from Canada.  Rather that weakening the provisions you agreed to yesterday, it is time for you to take meaningful action that will give Americans full access to the competitive global marketplace for prescription drugs,” the Governor wrote to House Republican leaders and members of the conference committee that will finalize the DHS appropriations bill.
 
The Governor pointed to the imbalance in the current worldwide pharmaceutical market.  Drug companies have put the squeeze on consumers in Illinois and across the United States by making them pay the highest prices in the world for the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy and alive.  The exact same drugs sold in the U.S. are available for much less in other industrialized countries – from 25-80 % less.  The Governor noted that not only would consumers benefit from having access to prescription drug markets outside the U.S., a 2004 study by Boston University found that contrary to drug makers’ claims, the pharmaceutical industry may also benefit from the importation of Canadian drugs as more people are finally able to afford medications they otherwise could not buy.
 
“There is no excuse for putting people’s health at risk just to protect drug companies’ profit margins.  But that’s exactly what the Food and Drug Administration is doing, and what you are sanctioning, by arbitrarily seizing packages of less expensive name-brand medications made by major American manufacturers and dispensed by licensed Canadian and European pharmacies.  The FDA has consistently sided with the drug manufacturers in keeping the marketplace closed and forcing consumers to pay artificially high prices.  Now is the time for Congress to require the FDA to instead focus its energy and resources on helping Americans find safe, affordable medications wherever they are available in the world,” the Governor states in his letter.
 
Below is the text of the Governor’s letter:
 
Dear Speaker Hastert and House Majority Leader Boehner:
 
Dear House and Senate Conferees:
 
On behalf of Illinois citizens, I am writing to urge you to not back down on the agreement you made yesterday on H.R. 5441, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2007, that if enacted would allow citizens to bring up to 90-day supplies of prescribed medicines home from Canada.  Rather that weakening the provisions you agreed to yesterday, it is time for you to take meaningful action that will give Americans full access to the competitive global marketplace for prescription drugs.
 
We know that pharmaceutical companies have put the squeeze on consumers in Illinois and across the United States by making them pay the highest prices in the world for the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy and alive.  The exact same drugs we use in the U.S. are available for much less in other industrialized countries – from 25-80 % less.  Consumers would clearly benefit from having access to prescription drug markets outside the U.S., and a 2004 study by Boston University found that contrary to drug makers’ claims, the pharmaceutical industry may in fact benefit from the importation of Canadian drugs as more people are finally able to afford medications they otherwise could not buy.
 
There is no excuse for putting people’s health at risk just to protect drug companies’ profit margins.  But that’s exactly what the Food and Drug Administration is doing, and what you are sanctioning, by arbitrarily seizing packages of less expensive name-brand medications made by major American manufacturers and dispensed by licensed Canadian and European pharmacies.  The FDA has consistently sided with the drug manufacturers in keeping the marketplace closed and forcing consumers to pay artificially high prices.  Now is the time for Congress to require the FDA to instead focus its energy and resources on helping Americans find safe, affordable medications wherever they are available in the world.
 
The time is past due for the federal government to stop acting in the best interests of the drug companies and start acting in the best interests of U.S. citizens.  I urge you to stand up to the drug companies that have already profited on the backs of American consumers, and to instead enact meaningful legislation that will introduce real competition into the pharmaceutical market and let Americans enjoy the lower prices that rest of the world enjoys for the same medications.
 
Sincerely,
Rod R. Blagojevich
Governor


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