A simple amendment to a bill in the U.S. Senate was introduced Wednesday night urging the government to permit U.S. residents to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada. The practice is currently illegal.
Canadian drugs are much cheaper than those purchased in the US, not because of their inferior quality, but simply due to government price controls. The United States is the only industrialized country that does not use price controls for pharmaceuticals.
The amendment introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders failed 52-46. That’s not surprising in one sense given the political views of Sanders compared to the majority of the Senate. However, what was surprising was who voted for and against the amendment. Thirteen Republicans and a majority of Democrats supported the Sanders amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.
A 2015 poll found that 72 percent of Americans support Canadian drug importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.
Those opposing the amendment claimed safety issues. This is a smokescreen. Do we really believe Canadian drug standards are fundamentally different that here? Besides most Canadian drugs are originally manufactured in the United States.
No. A big reason for the vote was money – not the high drug prices, but the Senators drugged and addicted to political campaign donations…or investments from big Pharma – that is pharmaceutical corporations.
Leading the way among the 13 Democrats who opposed the Sanders amendment was New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, perceived as an early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. Over the last 6 years, he received $267,338 from Big Pharma. Many pharmaceutical and biotech firms reside in New Jersey. Other Democrats who opposed this reasonable measure were Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) who received $254,649; Robert Casey (D-PA) who received $250,730; and Michael Bennet (D-CO) who received $222,000.
By the way, Booker is also a Wall Street favorite. Securities and investment firms donated/invested $1.88 million to Booker during the 2014 midterm elections – ahead of all other 99 senators. Second was Mitch McConnell.
This behavior doesn’t do much for the reality, or even the perception, that politicians – Democrats and Republicans — are listening to average people. Another example of the disconnect between what people want and, in this case, the policies we don’t have. Another example of the hijacking of what’s left of our democracy through the addiction of corporate campaign cash. Another example why we need to abolish corporate personhood and money as speech through the Move to Amend We the People Amendment. And another example of why we can’t leave it to those we elect to represent us.
We must take charge – educate others, organize, mobilize and pressure politicians to do what’s just.