rallies against drug plan Senator claims group
However, a spokesman for Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said the organization is a front group for pharmaceutical companies.
The Seniors Coalition held a press conference at the Senior Health Center in Bismarck, where former Republican Gov. Ed Schafer and a former Federal Drug Administration official spoke against legislation introduced by Dorgan that would increase drug importation.
Schafer said importing drugs from other countries could be harmful to patients because there is no guarantee the drugs will be safe or authentic.
Schafer said American drugs are safe because the FDA and local pharmacies are part of the regulatory process that provides trust in the system.
"We can't short-circuit
that trust," Shafer said.
Dorgan's plan allows importation of only drugs that are manufactured in FDA-approved plants from countries that have regulations similar to the United States.
Piatt said the Seniors
Coalition is a group funded by drug companies.
Mac Haddow, chairman of the policy advisory council for Seniors Coalition, said the organization receives some money from drug companies, but it comes in the form of grants for educational programs.
"We are not the lapdogs of the pharmaceutical companies and we are not their favorite sons," Haddow said.
Haddow said 90 percent of their funding comes from the four million individual members.
Importation of drugs has been a major issue because some of the same drugs that can be purchased in Canada and other countries are much cheaper than in the U.S.
Schafer said drugs are cheaper in Canada because the government there forces price controls on drug companies.
Piatt said drugs
are cheaper in Canada because the Canadian government negotiates a price
-- not because the prices are set by the government.
Peter Pitts, a former FDA official now working for Partnership for Safe Medicine, the company that conducted a poll of 500 North Dakotans, also opposed Dorgan's plan.
The poll Pitts touted showed that 71 percent of North Dakotans favor limited imports of Canadian drugs and that a majority also oppose drug imports from other countries.
There were few seniors at the press conference, but a few spoke up about the issue.
of Bismarck, said he buys all his prescription drugs at local pharmacies
because he doesn't want to risk his health after having had a heart transplant