Libertarian Party Release: Libertarians urge overturning ban on re-imported prescription drugs

WASHINGTON, DC -- The federal ban on re-imported prescription drugs has turned ailing senior citizens into criminals and dramatically inflated the cost of medicine, says the Libertarian Party, which is supporting legislation that would overturn the policy.

"This is price-fixing by the federal government, plain and simple," said Joseph Seehusen, Libertarian Party executive director. "In an attempt to further enrich the pharmaceutical industry, politicians are gouging senior citizens and interfering with every American's right to buy products from wherever they choose."

Spurred by growing anger over skyrocketing drug prices, the U.S. House took a step toward overturning the ban in July, when it passed a bill that would allow drugs to be re-imported from Canada and 25 other nations. But the Senate refused to adopt that legislation, and this week a House-Senate conference committee is set to decide whether to include that language in its $400 billion prescription drug bill.

Currently many Americans are purchasing the U.S.-made drugs in Canada and other nations that sell them less expensively, then "re-importing" them illegally into the United States.

The pharmaceutical industry and the FDA have launched a campaign against the bill, arguing that re-importation could bring unsafe medicines into the United States.

But Libertarians say the safety argument is just a scare tactic.

"Pharmaceutical companies disingenuously claim to want to 'protect' people from the drugs that they themselves produced," Seehusen said. "The truth is that this industry is far more worried about protecting its government-protected profits than it is about protecting public health."

The free-market itself offers all the protection that consumers need, Seehusen said.

"If companies produce a defective product, bad publicity results, sales plummet, and eventually executives get fired," he said. "Severe cases can result in ruinous lawsuits and even criminal charges against negligent executives.

"The same free market that rewards successful companies imposes a harsh penalty on those that make harmful products -- whether those companies are located in Canada, Germany, or the United States."

The real issue is economics, not safety, said Seehusen, who pointed out that senior citizens are paying up to six times more for drugs in the United States. The breast cancer drug Tamoxifen costs $60 in Munich but $360 in the United States, for example.

"By outlawing these drugs, the government is simply propping up prices for its corporate clients and gouging senior citizens in the process," he said.

That's why Libertarians support overturning the ban on re-imported drugs.

"The free-market is the best prescription for reducing health-care costs," Seehusen said. "It's time to decriminalize prescription drugs, and protect senior citizens from the government."

2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web:

For release: September 5, 2003

For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222

Back to the Editorial Page

Flag Ribbon