Louisiana Senator Vitter Declares War on Canadian Users of Viagra

3341cOkay, that headline is way misleading, but it’s Friday and I’m in a wrascally mood. Actually, what Republican Senator David (the Diaper) Vitter is suggesting is that we overwhelm the Canadian Prescription Drug Market via re-importation to drive prices up there and prices down here. It’s a strategy to break a system where Big Pharma gets to practice price discrimination which is basically charging different prices to different markets. TPM posted this Vitter explanation on YouTube.

Vitter’s economics seem like they might just work — or maybe not. Canada and other countries negotiate lower prices with the drug companies, who then demand exorbitant profits from U.S. consumers and our relatively free market. Arguably, by overwhelming other countries with American demand, their systems would break down. The next step here, is that Vitter believes this will cause prices to go up for everyone else, and down for us. (But we’d be curious what health care economists would say).

As Vitter told his questioner, who is apparently an Obama supporter: “I don’t support price controls, but I actually think re-importation would cause that system, as well as these varying prices, to collapse. That make sense?”

Of course, this is assuming the drug companies wouldn’t take advantage of their inelastic demand curves by just jacking up prices for everyone. And really, this whole scheme to destroy other countries’ social welfare programs for American benefit isn’t mighty neighborly of Vitter, is it?

It’s just so fiendish, it make actually work! But sheesh, aren’t there easier ways to take care of this like making some legislation here in the U.S. that lets Medicare bargain for its subscriber’s benefits or a public health option that could do the same? Why crash the Canadian system when just a little law writing could force the same result? We have laws that outlaw price discrimination! We could do something novel and let the Justice Department go after them with our antitrust laws! But, Senator Vitter, why pick on the poor Canadians, isn’t just living up there in the middle of ice fields and glaciers enough punishment as it is?

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