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Government that money can buy

Dear Editor:[Recently] I received a letter from John Lesiczka, supervisor of the mail branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He informed me that U.S. Customs had confiscated a 90-day supply of Lipitor that I had purchased from a Canadian pharmacy.The pharmacy required me to fill out a health questionnaire and have a valid prescription sent by my family physician. Lipitor is manufactured, bottled and labeled in the United States. It is sold here and also shipped abroad for sale in foreign countries. What I ordered is exactly the same product that is sold here in the States. I suspect that the people who work for U.S. Customs are happy to obtain safe, effective anti-cholesterol medicine for their own use or to sell on the black market.Regulation 21 USC 381 prohibits any person other than the original manufacturer from importing a prescription drug back into the United States. This is a very curious federal regulation. In his State of the Union message, President Bush urged Congress to take action to reduce medical costs. The president has advocated reduced regulation of commerce so that free markets may determine the price of goods and services. It is hypocritical for him to sign a federal regulation which prevents American consumers from participating in the global economy for no purpose other than protecting the profits of an American corporation.It is likely that the senators and congressmen who voted in favor of this outrageous regulation received generous campaign donations from the corporate interests that have benefited from its passage. When I was a youngster, I was taught that our government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” In recent years things have changed. We seem to have “the best government that money can buy.” Apparently campaign funding takes precedence over the medical needs of older Americans.This incident not only highlights the corruption of the legislative process, it also clearly demonstrates the law enforcement priorities of the executive branch. We are told that there are not enough government employees to protect our forests or to stem illegal immigration. On the other hand, taxpayer money is spent inspecting tens of thousands of small packages each day to make sure that foreign pharmacies will be prevented from doing business with Americans. Who benefits from this policy? Anticompetitive pricing engendered by this regulation increases corporate profits. The little guy gets the short end of the stick. Think about this the next time you go to the voting booth. Peter FreyBasalt


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