State to Sue Over Federal Ban on Drug Re-importation

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(Host) The state of Vermont will go to court to challenge a federal ban on drug imports from Canada. Vermont had sought a waiver from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow a pilot re-importation plan. But the FDA rejected the proposal. Now Attorney General William Sorrell and Governor Jim Douglas say they’ll file suit in U.S. District Court.

Douglas says the state crafted a legal and responsible drug re-importation plan. When the FDA rejected the plan, the governor said he conferred with Attorney General Sorrell about what to do next.

(Douglas) “Obviously we couldn’t do this without his strong support. And I appreciate the fact that he reviewed the application to the federal government and believes that it’s a strong one. He and I agree that the grounds for rejection by the federal government do not appear to be strong, or consistent with the law.”

(Host) Drug re-importation has emerged as a major issue in this year’s gubernatorial campaign. Democratic challenger Peter Clavelle has set up a re-importation plan in Burlington. The Burlington mayor has criticized Douglas for not doing enough to fight the federal ban on Canadian drug imports.

But Douglas says that the political heat did not prompt him to fight the Bush administration over its drug import policy.

(Douglas) “Not at all. I’ve said all along that I want to do whatever I can within the bounds of the law to provide access to lower cost pharmaceuticals to the people of our state. I really believe that we’re pursuing the right strategy. I asked the Food and Drug Administration to provide an opportunity. It declined to do so, so we’re going to pursue a remedy through the judicial process.”

(Host) Sorrell, who is a Democrat, is the president of the National Association of Attorneys General. Under his direction, the association has launched an initiative to look at the high cost of prescription drugs.

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