Senator Bernie Sanders recently slammed the disproportionately higher cost of drugs in the United States compared to Canada. In a statement, Sanders said: “EpiPen, costs more than $600 in the United States compared to $290 in Canada for the exact same allergy treatment. A popular drug for high cholesterol, Crestor, costs $730 in the U.S. but $160 across the northern border. Abilify, a drug to treat depression, is more than $2,636 for a 90-day supply in the U.S. but only $436 in Canada.”

Backing Donald Trump’s recent statement that “drugmakers are getting away with murder,” Senator Sanders, along with Senator Amy Klobuchar, proposed a budget-resolution amendment to allow both pharmacies and individuals with prescriptions to buy their drugs from Canada and other nations where they sell for significantly lower prices than in America. (For more, see Bernie Sanders Slams Drug Price Fixing.)

However, 13 Democrats, including Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell from Washington and Cory Booker from New Jersey, killed the amendment aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. The Democrats voted against the amendment last week, which failed by 46-52 votes despite garnering support from 12 Republicans.

Drug Safety Debate

While Murray and Cantwell stood their guard by raising concerns about “safety and quality of imported drugs,” New Republic noted that “Canadian drugs are made in the same places as ones sold in the United States,” and “the Canadian drug industry doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being dangerous.”

Following the failure of the vote for the amendment, the media was quick to pick up details that Murray and Cantwell have received $515,089 and $74,750, respectively, in campaign contributions from harmaceutical manufacturers. The figure stands at $273,165 for New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

In an August-2015 opinion poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a significant 72% of the respondents supported drug importation, and 74% agreed that drug importation will be an effective measure to keep drug prices down. (See also: New York State Attempts to Revamp Drug Pricing.)

The failure of amendment also shuts the doors for any potential debate which could have allowed for implementing the necessary safety measures in drug import processes, if the opponents wanted to include any.

Lashing out at the Democratic Party after losing the vote, Sanders pointed to $50 billion profits made by top five drug makers in 2015 though “nearly 1 in 5 Americans cannot afford the medicine that their doctor prescribes.” (For more, see The Beginning of the End of Obamacare.)

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