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Last Chance?

In what appears a last-ditch attempt to force action on legislation allowing prescription drug reimportation, a bipartisan group of Senators asked Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to bring their version of the bill to the floor before the chamber recesses Oct. 8 for the November elections. [IMGCAP(1)]

Three Republican moderates — Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), John McCain (Ariz.) and Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) — joined Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (N.D.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in the Sept. 16 letter to Frist.

Frist recently said he believes it is “doubtful” that the Senate will be able to move on such legislation this year.

“We understand that there is limited time remaining in this session of Congress, but we believe that American consumers desperately need the relief from high drug costs that our bill would provide,” the group wrote.

The bill is designed to allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries’ pharmacies where prices are lower, but critics claim the Food and Drug Administration says it cannot guarantee the safety of drugs from abroad.

Frist’s office quickly batted down the request Monday afternoon.

“Until [Frist] feels that safety concerns have been met, he’s not going to put the American people’s prescription drug system at risk,” said spokeswoman Amy Call.

— Emily Pierce