Friday, January 08, 2010

Buh-Bye, Byron!

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) just announced that he will not seek re-election. Read his official statement. Today's Wall Street Journal reports Health-Care Views Hurt Dorgan's Bid. I guess the drug importation thing wasn't so good for your political career after all.

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.


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.


  1. Adam:
    not disappointed to see him go - more need to follow. Scarier still is that he was just a few votes shy of getting his amendment attached to the Senate version of the Healthcare nightmare...could it be that the $80B pay-off by big pharma had something to do with it???

  2. Far more frightening to me is that if Congress succeeds in passing a bill using a process rife with bribes, kickbacks, and secret negotiations, there's no telling what they will use the same shenanigans for next.

    Here's a partial line-up of the freedom-reducing, budget-busting, highly unpopular bills that will pass with an equally corrupt process:

    - Card check
    - Cap and Trade
    - Amnesty (also falling under the disingenuous label of "reform")

    Drug Reimportation pales to insignificance in the shadow of these power grabs.