- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Opposing Hyde

Eight former U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations yesterday urged Congress to defeat a bill that would tie the annual amount of U.S. dues to reform at the scandal-ridden world body.

The bipartisan group of ambassadors expressed support for U.N. reform efforts but objected to withholding portions of U.S. contributions to enforce improvements in the management and operation of the United Nations.

“Reforming the United Nations is the right goal. Withholding our dues to the U.N. is the wrong methodology,” they said in a letter to House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, who introduced the measure. “It would create resentment, build animosity and actually strengthen opponents of reform.”

The letter was signed by: John C. Danforth, former ambassador under President Bush; former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Richard C. Holbrooke and Bill Richardson, U.N. ambassadors under President Clinton; Thomas R. Pickering, who served under Mr. Clinton and the first President Bush; Jeane Kirkpatrick, who served under President Reagan; and Donald McHenry and Andrew Young, who served under President Carter. The letter was organized by the Better World Campaign, a pro-U.N. group founded by liberal media mogul Ted Turner.

The House committee last week approved the United Nations Reform Act of 2005 and sent it to the full House, where even some of the bill’s opponents expect it to pass.

It requires the United Nations to enact 39 specific reforms or face a cutoff of half of the annual U.S. dues, which amounts to $438 million this year — about 22 percent of the total U.N. operating budget.

Mr. Hyde last week said, “We are opposed to legendary bureaucratization, to political grandstanding, to billions of dollars spent on multitudes of programs with meager results, to the outright misappropriation of funds represented by the emerging scandal regarding the oil-for-food program.

“And we rightly bristle at the gratuitous anti-Americanism that has become ingrained over decades.”

Drugs from Canada

Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna sounded upset about efforts in some U.S. state governments to approve the reimportation of drugs from Canada to take advantage of Canadian price controls.

“Don’t think you are doing any favors to us by trying to open the United States market for Canadian drugs because you are not,” he told the Associated Press this week. “If you are doing that, you are doing it for your own reasons, and you are avoiding dealing with the fundamental question of your drug pricing.”

Some governors and members of Congress support allowing the reimportation of U.S. drugs from Canada where they are sold initially at prices 30 percent to 50 percent lower than in the United States.

However, some private analysts and industry experts warn that Canada’s supply of cheaper drugs — even those made by American companies — could dry up if it also has to supply the United States.

The U.S. drug company Pfizer last year cut off sales to several Canadian mail-order pharmaceutical firms to stop the practice.

Marc Kealey of Canada’s Ontario Pharmacists’ Association raised the alarm at a meeting in March with U.S. pharmacists in Maine.

“Raiding Canada’s medicine cabinet will not solve the health care problems in the U.S.,” he said.

In the AP interview, Mr. McKenna also rejected U.S. concerns that reimported drugs are dangerous. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it cannot guarantee the safety of the drugs.

“We don’t want the reputation of our pharmaceutical sector sullied by attacks from the United States of America saying that reimported drugs aren’t safe,” he said.

Mr. McKenna conceded that some foreign firms could use Canadian Internet sites to sell inferior drugs to the U.S. market.

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