"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject" – Winston Churchill
Our old friend Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has once again tried to bring drug importation back from the dead. His latest maneuver failed, but the tenacity of importation fanatics remains impressive and scary.
The Senate is currently considering The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (S.982), which would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The House version (H.R. 1256) passed 298-112, so FDA regulation seems inevitable.
Last week, Senator Dorgan proposed stapling the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act (S.525) onto the tobacco bill. (See Surprise! New Importation Bill Introduced for background on the bill and its dangers.) Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who co-sponsored S.525 in March, joined the fray as described in Spat between Reid and McCain delays tobacco bill from The Hill. Industry blogs provided both pro (from eDrug Search) and con (from Drugwonks) viewpoints.
Late on Monday, Dorgan dropped his ridiculous attempt to add the drug importation to the tobacco bill, although Senate Majority leader Harry Reid reportedly said that importation will come forward for a Senate vote "very soon." (source)
I find it quite shameful that Senator Dorgan would link drug importation, which has a high probability of reducing public health, to the efforts at regulating a product with a clearly negative impact on human health. But then again, Dorgan has never seemed to have any shame as his consistent inconsistency on beef importation demonstrates.
Three other quick points:
The only trade association reaction has been from NACDS (text of NACDS letter), which is developing a reputation as first out-of-the-gate in press response these days. Interesting.
As it happens, I've been working with some companies in the tobacco industry to help them envision how their current distribution system might evolve – with the pharmaceutical industry as a possible model! Yes, I also find this to be one of the more ironic assignments in my consulting career.