The US Senate moved toward allowing American patients to import prescription drugs from Canada.
A Senate proposal approved 68 to 32 aims to create a loophole that would apply only to drugs from Canada within a measure banning an FDA ban from importing prescription medicine into the US, the Associated Press reported. It was offered as part of a $31.7 billion spending blueprint for the Homeland Security Department in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
As in years past, the provision was likely to be removed when the legislation reaches a conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers who will negotiate the final version, AP reported.
While importing drugs into the US is illegal, the FDA has generally not stopped small amounts for personal use.
Customs and Border Protection, a bureau of Homeland Security, began aggressively seizing Roche’s Tamiflu, Pfizer’s Viagra and other medications at borders in November.
Many Republicans in Congress oppose loosening the restrictions, arguing that imported drugs might not only be unsafe, but also pose a terrorism risk.
Senator Gregg Judd, a Republican from New Hampshire, said, “If I were a creative terrorist, I would say to myself, ‘Hey, listen, all I’ve got to do is produce a can here that says ‘Lipitor’ on it, make it look like the original Lipitor bottle, which isn’t too hard to do, fill it with anthrax.’ ”