"Senate Republicans accused Democrats of pandering to the pharmaceutical industry and putting off a vote on a bipartisan plan to allow the importation of cheaper medicines from Canada and other nations," Bloomberg reports here.

"Arizona Senator John McCain, the Republicans' 2008 presidential nominee, said Democrats were protecting a deal President Barack Obama struck with drugmakers in June to win support for an overhaul of the U.S. health-care system. The proposal would be an amendment to that legislation.

"If it passes, as it should, and allows drugs to be imported into this country, it breaks the agreement that the White House made," McCain said. The drugmakers' lobby, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, is "over here lobbying furiously."

"Senate Democrats including Tom Carper of Delaware and Bob Menendez of New Jersey voiced opposition to the amendment. Carper's state is home to the U.S. headquarters of London-based AstraZeneca Plc. Menendez counts Whitehouse Station, New Jersey- based Merck & Co. as a constituent, among other drugmakers."