The House of Representatives voted for the drug reimportation bill early this morning. Christine Hall of has a good story on the split within conservative ranks on the proposal, although feelings by free-marketeers are a good deal more heated that one might suppose from this piece.

Comments by our own Ed Haislmaier are featured in part of the story:

Ed Haislmaier from the National Center for Public Policy Research says the result of drug importation will be price controls and the enrichment of middlemen.

“To the extent that we’re letting other countries get away with this, it’s a form of stealing,” said Haislmaier. “They’re ex-appropriating other people’s intellectual property.”

Haislmaier said drug importation proponents are in effect importing those price controls. “You’re doing it through a back door,” he said.

In any case, said Haislmaier, people are mistaken to believe that drug importation will lead to cheaper drugs in the U.S.

Wholesalers and pharmacists – the prospective middlemen – would have “no incentive to offer more than just a slight discount” off the U.S. price. “Why not pocket the difference?” he asked.

Haislmaier predicted that following through on the proposal would amount to “opening up the door to potential mischief in terms of common criminals making a fast buck.”

Free market proponents of drug importation are misguided, said Haislmaier, who believes that supporters have “convinced themselves that if the price is lower elsewhere than here, that it’s free market, even if the only reason the price is lower elsewhere is because the government intervened with a price control.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.