President Bush on Monday repeated his opposition to allowing seniors to buy U.S.-made prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies as a way to save money, calling it unsafe for consumers.
“It’s an interesting idea, but remember, my job is to protect you as best I can,” Bush told about 500 supporters at a campaign event designed to contrast his views on healthcare with that of his Democratic challenger, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts. “What we don’t want to do is have a system where it sounds like a pharmaceutical may be coming in from Canada, but, in fact, it is manufactured in another country.”
Kerry in recent days has sharpened his criticism of the president for opposing regulations to allow drug reimportation, saying Bush’s inaction is one reason healthcare costs are rising rapidly.
Bush on Monday said it “sounds good” to lower prices, but added: “Before I’ll allow that to happen, I’m going to make sure that you’re safe. Because all you need to do is get a batch of drugs manufactured elsewhere that sounds like they’re legitimate, and get sick, and then you’re going to be wondering, where were the people, why weren’t they doing their jobs of protecting consumer safety?”
Polls have found that most seniors favor the reimportation of U.S.-made drugs from countries where they cost less. The issue is particularly relevant in Michigan -- where Bush spent the day on a bus tour -- because it borders Canada and is a closely contested state in the election.
Several Republican elected officials have joined the push to allow drug sales through Canada. Their support came in the wake of Medicare legislation last year that was designed to help seniors cut drug costs but instead angered many amid criticism that the bill boosted profits for pharmaceutical companies.