Sunday Best

  • by: |
  • 01/20/2008
Have a look at today’s New York Times editorial,“The Real Price of Fakes.”

Here’s a link:

And here’s the concluding paragraph:

“Some people in Congress want to tighten penalties on counterfeiters, a good but modest move. More to the point, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration need more money. And businesses that often avoid acknowledging the fake trade, for fear of damaging their brand, should be more open with consumers about how to tell the difference between real and unreal. Until then, buyer beware.”

A few points. First is that, absolutely, penalties must be significantly enhanced. Today the risks are too low and the rewards too high – and that will only lead to exponential growth in the counterfeiting of prescription medicines. According to the WHO, “The US based Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest predicts that counterfeit drug sales will reach US$ 75 billion globally in 2010, an increase of more than 90% from 2005.”

Willy Sutton, the depression-era criminal, when asked why he robbed, replied “because that’s where the money is.” If Willy Sutton were alive today, he’s be in the counterfeit drugs business – because that’s where the money is.

Second – and speaking of money – glad to see that the Times is calling on Congress to give the FDA more money to combat prescription medicine counterfeiting. And while they’re at it, the Times editorialists should also call out those members of Congress who want to actually tie FDA’s hands in dealing with this menace.

In 2006, the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force unsealed an indictment charging 19 persons with operating a global crime and terrorism ring spanning Lebanon, Canada, China, Brazil, Paraguay and the United States. The ring sold counterfeit drugs and other contraband materials, largely through direct consumer shipment from Canada, to Americans seeking cheaper drugs. It, in turn, directed its profits to support of the criminal terrorist group Hezbollah.
Less than four months later, as Hezbollah rockets rained down on Israel, the Senate voted for an amendment offered by David Vitter of Louisiana to ban U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents from seizing prescription drugs that Americans import from Canada. For Mr. Vitter, the passage was a defeat of sorts: He wanted to ban Customs agents from seizing medicines imported from anywhere, which suggests that the politicians who voted for the measure knew that dangerous people were trying to sell fake drugs in America.

Canada is already the favorite port of call for fake medicines. According to customs, most of these drugs are not shipped through wholesale distribution channels but are shipped directly to consumers, with Canada being the major transshipment point because of its access to the U.S. market.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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