Bush administration says importation does not equal savings

The Bush administration said Tuesday the establishment of a program to safely import prescription drugs is not likely to save U.S. consumers much money.
The study, conducted by a Department of Health and Human Services task force, stopped short of warning legislators to end their efforts to pass legislation that would allow reimportation of prescription drugs. However, the study did conclude that such a system could negatively impact the development of new drugs and also raised liability concerns for consumers, manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.
"The public's expectation that most imported drugs are less expensive than American drugs is not generally true," said surgeon general Richard Carmona, the task force chairman. Carmona said lower-cost generic drugs account for most of the prescription drugs consumed in the U.S.
The administration would only consider a drug importation system that would be limited to certain, high-volume brand name drugs from Canada, Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thomson said. But the report raised concerns about drugs in Canadian pharmacies that have been purchased from other countries, making it difficult to determine their safety. 
The report also stated the way that U.S. consumers currently import drugs from Canada and other places is associated with significant risk since there is no way to determine whether the drugs are legitimate and whether they contain the proper amount of medicine.
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