McCain Calls for Drug Reimportation

The Associated Press
Saturday, November 17, 2007; 12:58 PM

CANAAN, Vt. -- Republican presidential contender John McCain on Saturday said he wants to again allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada as a way to bring health care costs under control.

The Arizona senator, speaking to reporters about a mile from the Canadian border and just across the river from New Hampshire, said too much of health care costs are based on high drug prices.

"Drug companies and the lobbyists they pay in Washington want to keep your drug prices high. Obviously, I want them to be affordable," McCain said, returning to his criticism of how Washington works.

Until drugs are cheaper, the cost of health care is going to skyrocket, helping to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid, McCain said.

"If we are going to control health care cost, we need to control the rising costs of pharmaceuticals," McCain said, adding that drug prices are 16 percent to 60 percent cheaper in Canada and are to blame for rising insurance premiums.

"A person taking a standard blood-thinner, the savings could be over $200 a year. If your problem is heartburn, it could be $750. For treating depression, as much as $1,400 a year," he said.

McCain noted his rivals do not support drug reimportation programs.

"These are drugs being reimported. They go to Canada and then they can come back in. It's a strawman to say that a country like Canada could not be responsible for safe drugs to be brought into our country. Many of them are manufactured in Canada, as you know," he said.

McCain said he would be open to bringing in drugs from any country with the proper safeguards.

"I would reimport them from any country in the world as long as you have the proper process. In Canada, we already do. In Mexico, we do not," he said.

© 2007 The Associated Press