“If you like this pricing, where our people pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, don’t vote for this amendment,” said Byron Dorgan, right before the vote on his amendment to safely re-import prescription drugs from Canada, Europe and abroad.

Robert Menendez, the Senator from Merck, got fired up in his speech, citing the authority of the FDA and saying that public safety is the entire issue. The FDA has a fairly poor track record in recent years keeping Americans safe from faulty products imported from abroad, and in this case we’re talking about the same drugs manufactured at the same location, but whatever you’ve got, I guess. He also said that reimportation “would do nothing to close the doughnut hole,” which is kind of like saying that raising taxes on rich people would do nothing for making the Postal Service more effective.

I’ll be monitoring this vote, which is happening now.

…The clerk is calling the roll. So far I’ve heard Lamar Alexander say “aye” on this, along with Sherrod Brown. Republicans could really impair the pharmaceutical deal, and in a larger sense the entire bill, by signing on to this measure. We’ll see if their love of corporate boondoggles conflicts with that.

…it looks to me like the amendment is going to pass by a huge margin. Dozens of Republicans are supporting. They’ve gamed this out perfectly.

There are a lot of so-called “progressives” on health care voting against the amendment, too.

Something to keep in mind – if the Lautenberg amendment passes, it would essentially invalidate the Dorgan amendment by adding the caveat that the FDA certify everything at the border.

Bunches of Democrats have decided to vote against this in the past few roll calls, this is going to be extremely close.

Senators are huddled around the desk tabulating the votes, this is one of those where the outcome is not pre-determined. Dick Durbin has a panicked look on his face.

…A late move toward the no side could deny this the needed 60 votes. They just got Lieberman to vote against it, along with luminaries like Kerry, Schumer, Reid, Durbin, Burris and Rockefeller.

…Lautenberg’s amendment has passed the Senate four separate times. It clearly kills re-importation because we haven’t seen any. This defeat of the Dorgan amendment is simply being done to preserve a corrupt deal.

Yeas 51, nays 48. Dorgan amendment does not pass.

…Lautenberg’s amendment is up now, it’ll pass because it’s passed before. But Sen. Dorgan is right, “Do not vote for the Lautenberg amendment and say you’ve done something about prescription drugs, your constituents will know better.”

Big PhRMa wins again in the US Senate, consumers get screwed.

…Wow, even the Lautenberg amendment didn’t pass, losing 56-43. Keep in mind that this kind of amendment has passed the Senate at least four times. Big PhRMa laid down the law.

…Roll call on the Dorgan Amendment is here. The White House had to line up 31 no votes from the Democratic caucus to kill this.

David Dayen

David Dayen