Economist Mark Kleiman, in a clearheaded post on drug reimportation, says:
"No doubt, the politicians who are campaigning to permit pharmaceutical arbitrage are demagoging the issue by failing to mention the impact on innovation. But at least the argument they make that allowing arbitrage would reduce prices to consumers is more or less correct, and actually expresses their goal. The politicians who oppose arbitrage, by contrast -- including the Bush Administration -- largely try to hide behind the safety fig-leaf. Thats an insult to the intelligence of the voters."
Oh, yes indeed. My readers know that I've been banging on that particular washtub for a long time now, much good has it done. Here we go again, once more with feeling, from someone who works right here in the drug industry:
Canadian pharmaceuticals are safe. They're just as safe as ours. The reasons that reimporting them is a bad idea are economic ones. We need the money, and we've turned the US into the only place we can make it.
A more, um, detailed presentation of that point of view (from a passel of economists) can be found here. But the politics of the problem aren't in need of expert explication. Opponents of drug reimporation are trying to beat something (cheap drugs!) with nothing (no cheap drugs!) That's always a tough sell, so they - I can't bring myself to use the pronoun "we" - are trying to use irrelevant scare tactics instead. People are catching on
I think you can win a few short-term battles that way, at the cost of most surely losing the war. As I keep saying, the safety argument is one that can be addressed. As it will be, and where will my industry be then? Left wiping sweat from its forehead, stammering "But. . .but. . .there's actually another reason why this won't work. . ."
It'll be too late. The industry whose efforts I have devoted my adult working life to, the one that feeds my kids and keeps a roof over my head, is happily strapping itself to a barrel. It's making double-sure that the knots are firm and the cords are tight. The waterfall makes an awful, awful noise. . .