A recent poll placed Gov. Tim Pawlenty's job approval rating at 56 percent, the highest since he took office. The Republican governor's recent initiative to help Minnesotans buy lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada may be indicative of why he is so popular.
By launching a Web site -- www.MinnesotaRxConnect.com -- offering state residents a chance to shop online for cheaper medicine north of the border, Pawlenty is bravely defying President Bush, something most Republicans are leery of doing.
The Bush administration's stated objection to Canadian drug imports is a desire to protect the American public from ineffective or counterfeit drugs. However, skeptics believe the White House and key lawmakers are more interested in protecting the pharmaceutical industry, which lobbies heavily and very successfully in Washington.
Thanks undoubtedly to industry efforts, the recently passed Social Security prescription drug bill prohibits the government from directly negotiating with the industry for lower drug prices, disappointing senior citizens hoping for relief from the spiraling costs of prescription medicine.
In following the lead of states such as Illinois in pursuing the Canadian alternative, Gov. Pawlenty did not ignore federal government safety concerns. The two Canadian pharmacies listed in the Web site have been inspected by state regulators and given their stamp of approval. This won't satisfy either the Bush administration or the FDA, which will likely attempt to eliminate or hinder the program.
However, many Minnesotans, particularly budget-stressed seniors, will be everlastingly grateful to the governor if his bold initiative helps bring down the high cost of drugs a bit.
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