NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 3, 2005

Advocating the reimportation of drugs from Canada seems like the "conservative" position to take, says Robert Lawson of Capital University. After all, conservatives advocate free trade and individual consumer freedom.

However, the real issue is the importation of price controls, not drugs. The real conservative position, in essence, is:

  • Supporting the right of American drug companies to establish contracts with purchasers, including agreements that the drugs not be resold.
  • Supporting private property rights, allowing buyers and sellers to contract for the purchase of goods in any way they see fit.
  • Supporting the enforcement of private contracts between parties.

The practice of American drug companies offering varying contracts to purchasers is similar to that of other industries.

Take college tuition, for example. Some students may be charged $20,000 per year to attend a university, while others are charged $2,000 per year to attend the same university. However, the university has the right to prohibit the $2,000 per year student from selling his or her enrollment to another student for $20,000 per year.

The conservative position, says Lawson, is not against reimportation itself except when it violates the terms of a contract.

Source: Robert Lawson, "The Conservative Case Against Drug Reimportation," Perspective Public Policy Journal, Vol. 11, No. 11, November 2004, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


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