NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 24, 2005

The United States is No. 1 in counterfeit, stolen or diverted prescription drug incidents, says the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI).

According to researchers:

  • Counterfeiting, theft and diversion (for resale in the wholesale market) of prescription medications has jumped 16 percent worldwide in the last year.
  • There were 553 reported incidents in 2004, of which 76 occurred in the United States; by comparison, there were 477 reported incidents worldwide in 2003.

Moreover, say the researchers, since the United States is the largest market for retail pharmaceutical sales, it "will continue to be a target for the distribution of counterfeit, stolen and diverted medicines."

In recent weeks, lawmakers and regulators have taken action:

  • Legislation was introduced in Congress to enforce a provision of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that would require all wholesalers to keep "pedigree papers" on the drugs they sell.
  • Cardinal Health, one of the nation's main wholesalers, said recently it would curtail its already limited purchases of prescription drugs from secondary wholesalers.
  • New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer last month subpoenaed Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergin, as part of an ongoing investigation of the secondary wholesale market.
  • A federal jury last week indicted six people and six businesses in Utah, New York, New Jersey and California for allegedly diverting a wide range of prescription drugs and selling them to pharmacies.

Source: Appleby, Julie, "Stolen, counterfeit drug problems rise," USA Today, May 11, 2005.

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