UPDATED with Sen. Booker’s statement of 1/13/17
Senators Cory Booker & Bob Menendez just voted against cheaper prescription drugs, a Bernie Sanders amendment. Want to ask why?
Booker: (202) 224-3224 (DC), 856.338-8922 (Camden), (973) 639-8700 (Newark).
Menendez: (202) 224-4744 (DC), (973)645-3030 (Newark), (856)757-5353 (Barrington).
Or you can ask them Sunday how much $$ they get from Big Pharma – when both headline a NJ rally to save healthcare organized by Bernie Sanders. Yes, really.
As vmars picked up, 13 Senate Dems – including Booker & Menendez – voted a few hours ago against an amendment that would have allowed pharmacists to import identical—but much less expensive—drugs from Canada and other countries. You can’t ignore the context here:
- Booker and Menendez voted with the Republican majority here.
- 12 Republicans & 2 Independents (Bernie Sanders of Vermont & Angus King of Maine) voted for the amendment.
- This, the same night that Republicans, itching to dismantle Obama’s signature achievement and promises to keep to their base and funders, took their first step for repeal of the ACA (House votes tomorrow).
Reaction came swiftly to the 13 Dems voting against the amendment, co-sponsored by Bernie Sanders and Amy Kobuchar – particularly directed at Booker, whose history-making testimony yesterday against Jeff Sessions made national news, and seemed to define him as a senator of integrity. So why did Cory Booker vote no?
The vote came during last night’s marathon vote-o-rama, which began last night and continued into the wee hours this morning. In the middle of it all, came an amendment – co-sponsored by Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar – that could have saved Americans dependent on medications considerable money; it was meant to be attached to the budget resolution. Here’s the full roll call.
Call your Senators. Numbers up top. As always, be polite, as their staff will be polite to you.
Late Friday night, Senator Booker issued the following statement posted on Facebook. Forty-six minutes after he posted it, there were 587 shares and 1,236 comments – the vast majority negative.
To those of you who have reached out to me by phone, email, social media, or otherwise about a vote I took this week related to the importation of prescription drugs: I greatly appreciate your feedback and I’m grateful for your passion.
I support the importation of prescription drugs. It should be part of a strategy to control the skyrocketing cost of medications. Further, we should be willing to try a lot of ways to control drug prices, because we’re going to need a comprehensive approach to truly solve this problem. Many of them will be counter to the desires of the pharmaceutical industry, but just as insurance companies shouldn’t drive health policies, drug companies shouldn’t dictate them either.
Any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure that the drugs coming into this country are safe. The amendment I voted against last week didn’t meet this test.
Public health leaders have long-stressed the need for strong safety standards coupled with any drug importation plan – everyone from commissioners, top officials, and researchers at the FDA to HHS secretaries under Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton.
Please know how committed I am to finding solutions to the problem of skyrocketing drug prices – it’s a problem I’ve been working to alleviate for years. This is a life-or-death issue for millions of families, particularly seniors and those struggling with chronic health conditions like diabetes or asthma. This is a crisis for countless American families, and it is stretching them to the breaking point.
That’s why as mayor of Newark, I brought clinics, nonprofits, and drug companies to the table and developed a free drug discount card program that aimed to cut drug costs for under- and un-insured residents of our city.
It’s why I voted this week for measures that bring drug prices down and protect Medicare’s prescription drug benefit.
And it’s why I support and am exploring ways to find more comprehensive solutions to this growing problem, including finally allowing the government, through Medicare, to use their purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices and, of course, allowing for the importation of prescription drugs with adequate safety standards.
To those who think pharmaceutical industry pressure matters to me — it doesn’t. I work for the people of New Jersey, and have never and will never let any industry influence a vote I make on behalf of the American people.
Thank you again to all who reached out on this issue. Your passion makes a difference.