The following editorial appeared in the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday, June 9:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. Judd Gregg claim to stand for free markets and less government regulation. But their actions belie that. They’re pushing a bill that appears to support reimportation of U.S.-approved prescription drugs from lower-cost countries but actually would kill it.

They aim to derail a bill by Sen. Byron Dorgan that has bipartisan support. Because Dorgan’s bill mirrors one already approved by the House, its passage would make this popular movement, at long last, a reality.

The Trojan Horse bill devised by the Senate leadership was introduced last week by Gregg, chair of the health committee. It purports to set up a safer drug-reimportation system than the other bills. In reality, it would:

• Impose so much red tape on foreign pharmacies that want to do business with the United States that they would decline to participate.

• Delay imports from Canada for one year, and from Europe for three years.

• Remove penalties for what amounts to extortion – drug companies cutting off supplies from pharmacies that sell to the United States.

• Differ enough from the House bill that both would have to go to a conference committee. There, opponents of real reform could block agreement until this session of Congress ends and both bills die.

Don’t be fooled. The only things this bill protects are drug companies’ profits. The Senate should pass the Dorgan bill, and Frist and Gregg should stop being so hypocritical.

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