The economic winds that blew away the U.S. budget surplus have also carried away the political will to provide a Medicare prescription drug benefit, improving the climate for commercial reimportation of pharmaceuticals as a quick political fix to the drug price debate.

The Senate now seems bent on attaching a provision to the FDA appropriations bill that would allow large-scale reimportation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada, where government involvement in price setting ensures that many therapies are cheaper than in the U.S.