Good luck in retirement, Byron! Our country will be safer without your fanatical pursuit of dangerous legislation.
I presume that Dorgan’s retirement will lower the threat of importation legislation—at least until another zealot takes up the cause. Ominously, the White House recently signaled continuing support for importation, but I think it’s a bluff (for now).
Senator Dorgan's recent effort to attach an importation amendment to the health reform bill failed, but not before garnering YEA votes from 51 Senators. See Drug Importation: Dead Again.
A few days after the vote, Obama aide David Axelrod told CNN that the White House still favors drug importation:
“Let me be clear. The president supports re-importation. As he said, safe re-importation of drugs into this country. There’s no reason why the Americans should pay a premium for pharmaceuticals that people in other countries pay less for. We will move forward on it.” (source)Whatever. Now that he is President, I believe (hope?) that Obama better understands the risks of importation. Axelrod's statement seems designed to provide political cover for the administration against the pro-importation supporters who don't really understand the dangers.
The problems with importation arise because independent wholesalers and pharmacies can buy, repackage, and resell the products. This trading activity, a.k.a. “parallel trade,” creates openings for counterfeit and mishandled products to enter the supply chain. It also can create shortages if your country happens to be “low cost” based on current exchange rates. As Business Week reminded us last month: Europe Awash in Counterfeit Drugs.
A PERSONAL REFLECTION
Senator Dorgan’s retirement gives me one less easy target. Check out Consistent Inconsistency—a personal favorite from the Drug Channels’ archives. Good times.
But let me give credit where credit is due. Senator Dorgan did have the guts to show up on The Colbert Report in 2006, where he again demonstrated his shaky grasp of economic principles.
Often wrong, never in doubt. We'll miss ya, dude.