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SENATE DRUG DIVERSION BILL SPONSORS TARGETING OCTOBER MARKUP

Executive Summary

SENATE DRUG DIVERSION BILL SPONSORS TARGETING OCTOBER MARKUP by the full Finance Committee. The legislation's sponsor, Sen. Matsunaga (D-Hawaii), held a hearing in his Finance/International Trade Subcommittee last spring ("The Pink Sheet" June 15, p. 7). Although the subcommittee has not held a markup, Matsunaga reportedly is hoping to have the measure (S 368) considered by the full committee by the end of October. The diversion bill has not been a high priority in the Senate, and Matsunaga has not forced the issue. Early in the current session, congressional staffers said Matsunaga was delaying action until the House passed Rep. Dingell's (D-Mich.) companion bill. Dingell's measure (HR 1207) passed the House May 4. By then, Senate Finance Committee members were said to be busy on the trade bill. That legislation passed the Senate July 21. Since then, the Finance Committee has been considering budgetary issues. House proponents of drug diversion legislation are trying to light a fire under the measure in the Senate. They recently have written to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bentsen (D-Texas) asking him to expedite consideration. In a September letter to Bentsen, the House Commerce Committee Chairman Dingell and Ranking Minority Member Lent (R-N.Y.) wrote to "urge" the Finance Committee "to pass this important legislation without delay." Calling the diversion bill "the product of two years of investigation and . . . a carefully crafted compromise among all major elements of the [pharmaceutical] industry," the House proponents said the measure "is ripe for passage." Consumer protections provided by the bill are needed, and the provisions are endorsed by "responsible elements throughout the pharmaceutical industry," Dingell and Lent added. The Commerce Committee members also pointed out that more than 20 senators are cosponsors of S 368 and that all "major industry groups expressed support for the House-passed version" at a hearing before the Senate International Trade Subcommittee. "Indeed, [the bill] is endorsed by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Retail Druggists, the National Wholesale Druggists Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the American Pharmaceutical Association, the National Association of Hospital Pharmacists, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and other national and state trade and industry groups," they said.
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