The legalization of importing drugs from other countries by pharmacies and wholesalers is back in the legislature, with a name that seems to be getting bipartisan support from Senators. "The Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act" has such a ring to it.

It might as well be called the Death of the Pharmaceutical Industry Act. Importing drugs from other countries would be disastrous for Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), Merck (NYSE: MRK), Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), and the rest of the pharmaceutical industry. Their drugs fetch higher prices here in the States, and the companies count on that extra revenue to drive profits.

Blame Canada (and many other countries)
The basis for the act is reasonable. It's unfair that Americans pay more for their drugs than other countries. We're paying an inequitable share of the research and development costs to develop those drugs.

Importing drugs from other countries evens out the playing field, and we don't even have to look like the bad guy. Instead of establishing price controls, we just use the ones instituted by other countries to lower drug cost by importing their prices.

Except it won't work
If we all paid the prices for drugs that are available in Canada or the E.U., we'd potentially end up with drugmakers without any incentive to develop new drugs. R&D would shut down, and we'd eventually end up with generic-drug makers like Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: TEVA) and Mylan (Nasdaq: MYL) as the only drugmakers standing.

Congress isn't going to let that happen; this is all showboating so that members of Congress can look like they're doing something to bring down drug prices.

Even if the bill were to pass, it wouldn't accomplish much. The drugmakers ultimately control where their drugs go, and at what price. If some country started exporting large amounts of its drugs into the U.S., the drugmaker would simply cut down on the available supply. For instance, in the EU countries where exporters were shipping drugs to other member countries with higher prices, shortages occurred when the drug companies responded by delivering a smaller quota to the country.

As far as I can tell, reimportation has a lot of bark, but very little bite. What do you think? Have a better solution for lowering drug prices? Let us know in the comment box below.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.