AstraZeneca sent a letter to members of Congress today to express support for legislation that would increase penalties for those convicted of counterfeiting prescription medicines.
The letters sent to bill sponsors Rep. Patrick Meehan, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Linda Sanchez note that the issue of counterfeit medicines is particularly serious via “Internet pharmacies”:
While the total incidence of counterfeit medicines sold in “brick and mortar “ pharmacies in the U.S. is estimated to be less than 1 percent of the total market value, the World Health Organization estimates that over 50 percent of medicines purchased from Internet sites without a physical address are counterfeit.
You can see the World Health Organization fact sheet on the issue here.
The letter concludes:
Although the trafficking of counterfeit drugs is currently illegal in the United States, the penalties for such activity are the same for the trafficking of other products. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enforcement Act would significantly and meaningfully increase penalties for the trafficking of counterfeit drugs to reflect the severity of the crime and the harm to the public. The proposed sanctions and sentencing guidelines would serve as powerful deterrents to pharmaceutical counterfeiting, greatly benefitting patient safety and health.
Additional details on the bill can be found here.