Home Health Why Would Any Democrat Vote Against Cheaper-Priced Drugs from Canada?

Why Would Any Democrat Vote Against Cheaper-Priced Drugs from Canada?


I’m definitely with Robert Reich (see his statement below) on this one; why would any Democrat worthy of the name vote against cheaper pharmaceuticals from Canada? For the roll call vote, held (appropriately) in the dark of the night Wednesday — when hardly anybody was paying attention — click here. Note that the amendment, “To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to lower prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada,” was rejected on a 46-52 vote, with a whopping 13 (!) Democrats  — including our own state’s Mark Warner — voting “nay.”

Again, why? I really don’t get it; the “argument” that this is about protecting Americans from supposedly unsafe drugs from that notorious Third World nation to our north (heh) is, as Reich puts it, “rubbish.” By the way, I contacted Sen. Warner’s office this morning for an explanation as to why he voted “nay” on this, but so far haven’t heard back. If I do, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, here’s what Robert Reich has to say…

If Democrats don’t act like Democrats and stick up for average Americans, who will? Republicans? Trump?

Last night Bernie Sanders introduced a simple amendment urging the federal government to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada (where drugs are considerably cheaper because the Canadian government uses a review board and price negotiation to make drugs more affordable). Such unrestricted drug importation is currently barred by law because Big Pharma doesn’t want anything to cut into its profits.

The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46. It was opposed by most Republicans (no surprise) but also by 13 Democrats, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker, a rising star in the party and a possible 2020 presidential contender. Democrats who opposed it said they were concerned about safety.

Rubbish. Canadians are just as concerned about safety as we are. Most of the drugs that would be imported from Canada were originally manufactured in the United States, anyway.

Booker and other Democrats who opposed the Sanders amendment are longtime friends of Big Pharma. As MapLight data shows, Booker has received more pharmaceutical manufacturing cash over the past 6 years than any other Democratic senator: $267,338. Other Democrats receiving six-figure donations from Big Pharma – Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, Washington’s Patty Murray, and Colorado’s Michael Bennet — also opposed the amendment.

We have no hope of winning back Congress and the presidency – and winning back the confidence of the American people – if elected Democrats take big money and vote the way big money wants them to.

  • John Farrell

    In his recent e-mail responding to mine about cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Mark Warner made clear that he is open to raising the retirement age and cutting benefits to seniors.

    Combine that with this vote on Canadian drugs, his intense opposition to the public option and the CFPB, and I need someone to explain to me just exactly what it is that makes Prince Mark a Democrat?

    • Elaine Owens

      I’e always thought that Mark Warner is what used to be called a “Rockefeller Republican,” a politician who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative and extremely friendly to business. Those Republicans were run out of the GOP mostly, and Mark, to my way of thinking, has inherited their philosophy. I don’t mind the “fiscal conservative” part that much; after all, good programs must be paid for, or as my Daddy used to say, “There’s no free lunch.” However, his worship at the altar of corporate profits shows his true colors, just another multi-millionaire looking out for the interests of his fellow country club members.

      • “Country club” and/or “Chamber of Commerce” Republican.

  • Tom

    Seems Booker AND Menendez (Ds NJ) voted NO.
    It also might be the industry has a big footprint in NJ, so local jobs are on the line.

    • Elaine Owens

      New Jersey used to be full of Big Pharma companies. Lately, there has been a pull-back, in part because, in addition to industry consolidation, the cutting-edge research in that industry is now being done more at universities with strong STEM graduate and post-graduate programs (biotech), putting New Jersey at a disadvantage. You may be right. Part of it may be defensive against losing more pharma jobs with Booker and Menendez. Now, what was Warner’s excuse???

  • Laura Lee
    • If true, that would help explain the weird partisan distribution on this one, although I’m not sure why Sen. Warner can’t just say it was a meaningless vote or whatever….

    • Daisy Brockway

      Senator Booker’s own words mention safety, so I don’t understand what you are getting at.

    • Cowicide

      If by “explanation” you mean poor, debunked, pathetic excuses to line the pockets of corporatists at the expense of the American public, then you’re correct.

  • $200,000+ campaign and leadership PAC donations buys you votes against bills that will impact your profits.

    Booker’s taken somewhere around a quarter million.
    Warner’s taken somewhere around $183,000 if I remember right.

    Booker’s argument of “safety” is the exact same argument, nearly word for word, that the pharmaceutical industry makes against allowing drug imports that would force them to lower their prices (and breaking their “profit over people” business philosophy). When Warner’s office was contacted yesterday, his staff stated that they didn’t know why he voted that way but they would find out.

    Irony is, there were enough votes to pull it if these Dems who have been successfully lobbied hadn’t voted as directed by the industry lobbyists. Even McCain was on board with it, as were other Republicans. Mark needs to get a reminder that he didn’t win his last election by the strongest of margins apparently (0.83 of a point over Gillespie).

  • wwfleming

    Well, I volunteered about 3 weeks in the Virginia Beach Coordinated Campaign office during GOTV period of Warner’s last campaign. I guess I will be able to do something else next time.

  • turbo_tpl

    I’m so glad to see our Congressional representatives saving us from the perils of “unsafe” drug reimportation. How is it that pharmaceutical companies can sell the same drugs “unsafely” in Canada but “safely” in the United States? Wouldn’t this reflect rather poorly on the practices of Big Pharma companies?

    It’s a bullshit excuse for price gouging.

  • newscat01

    I hope Patty Murray tucked some of those six figure gratuities away for a rainy day, when she has to find a real job…and it’s always raining in this part of the country.

  • mjK

    Why no praise for, or even mention of, the 12 Republicans that voted in favor?