S.C.R. NO.











WHEREAS, according to an AARP report Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs in Hawaii: A 2003 Survey of Residents Age 18:

(1) Six in ten people in Hawaii report having taken prescription medication in the last twelve months, and of the above, three-quarters take medication on a regular basis;

(2) Of respondents taking medication on a regular basis, more than three-quarters take one to three prescription drugs per day and slightly more than ten per cent take four to five prescription drugs per day; and

(3) One-third of those who take medication regularly either delay filling their prescriptions or go without other basic necessities in order to afford their medication; and

WHEREAS, many prescription drugs sold in the United States are available at lower prices abroad, including Lipitor, Imdur, Amitriptilene, and Tamoxifen, which sell in Canada at prices that are twenty-nine, seventy-three, seventy-four, and eighty-six per cent less than their respective prices in the United States; and

WHEREAS, Hawaii's residents would benefit from being able to lawfully purchase lower-priced drugs from pharmacies outside the United States or from pharmacies within the United States that import drugs from abroad; and

WHEREAS, the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) generally prohibits the importation of unapproved new drugs into the United States, which are any drugs, including foreign-made versions of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that have not been manufactured in accordance with and pursuant to FDA approval; and

WHEREAS, additionally, the FDCA prohibits the reimportation of drugs except by the manufacturers of the drugs or if authorized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services because a drug is required for emergency medical care; and

WHEREAS, the FDCA, as amended by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (Pub. L. 108-173), commonly known as the Medicare reform law:

(1) Mandates the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), after consultation with the United States Trade Representative and the Commissioner of Customs, to promulgate regulations permitting pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States; and

(2) Authorizes the Secretary, by regulation or on a case-by-case basis, to grant individual waivers of the prohibition against the importation of prescription drugs from Canada; and

WHEREAS, the aforementioned provisions become effective only if the Secretary certifies to the Congress that their implementation will pose no additional risk to the public's health and safety and will result in a significant reduction in the cost of drugs for consumers; and

WHEREAS, critics charge that the safety certification is the "poison pill" of the prescription drug importation provisions because no Health and Human Services Secretary, including the current Secretary, is likely to commit to guaranteeing the safety of imported drugs; and

WHEREAS, the safety certification requirement is regarded as a windfall for the pharmaceutical industry, which has opposed the importation of price-controlled drugs; and

WHEREAS, federal legislation has been proposed to address the above and other criticisms of the drug importation law; and

WHEREAS, for instance, S.1992 establishes an eighteen-month deadline for the promulgation of importation regulations by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and repeals the safety certification prerequisite; and

WHEREAS, other pending federal legislation authorizes the importation of prescription drugs from twenty-five industrialized countries, and not just from Canada; and

WHEREAS, the aforementioned and other similar legislation would provide more meaningful prescription drug cost relief for consumers than the current law; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-Second Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2004, the House of Representatives concurring, that the members of Hawaii's congressional delegation are urged to support legislation to effectively enable consumers to purchase imported prescription drugs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the members of Hawaii's delegation to the Congress of the United States.






Report Title:

Prescription Drug Imports; Federal Legislation