Clavelle to Address U.S. Mayors’ Conference in Boston

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(Host) Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle says he’ll be encouraging mayors from around the country to take an active role in making prescription drugs from Canada available in their communities. Clavelle plans to raise the topic at this weekend’s U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Boston.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Clavelle’s message to the nation’s mayors is basic: don’t wait for federal approval to start up a program to purchase less expensive prescription drugs from Canada because that approval may never come. Instead, be bold and take action right now.

Clavelle has started such a program in Burlington for city employees. He says buying drugs from Canada has significantly cut the city’s budget for drugs and he thinks it’s a program that can serve as a national model:

(Clavelle) “The mayors recognize that we have a health care crisis, part of it driven by the high cost of prescription drugs. It affects individuals, families and taxpayers in every community across this country. One step that we can take and take today is to re-import drugs and I can share Burlington’s experience where the average savings per prescription is 48 percent.”

(Kinzel) Clavelle is also raising this issue as a key part of his campaign against Republican incumbent Governor Jim Douglas. Douglas supports re-importation but doesn’t want to challenge the federal government. Clavelle says it’s critical to act now because the cost of drugs has skyrocketed out of control.

Clavelle will face another issue when he travels to Boston on Friday for the U.S. Mayor’s Conference. The police and firefighters unions are picketing the conference to protest a salary dispute with Mayor Tom Menino. The unions have written to all the mayors asking them to honor the picket line; Clavelle will not:

(Clavelle) “It puts me in an awkward situation. I’m very much a supporter of organized labor and I appreciate the fact that the police union in Boston is engaged in contractual dispute with the city of Boston. I understand that, but I don’t believe that the creation of a picket line is the appropriate measure to address this situation.”

(Kinzel) Clavelle says the conference will consider a number of key issues that will directly affect the lives of the union members and their families and he says it’s very important for the mayors to have an opportunity to discuss these issues.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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