House approves counterfeit drug legislation

The House approved anti-counterfeiting legislation Monday.

AstraZeneca commends the U.S. House for passing bipartisan legislation to increase fines for individuals or companies caught selling fake medicines in the United States.

We’ll let bill co-sponsor Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania explain the legislation, which cleared the House late Monday:

“With prescription drug costs rising, understandably people go online to find discounts on the drugs they need – seniors especially,” said Meehan. “All too often, the drugs they receive are counterfeit. Although it’s illegal to traffic in counterfeit goods, current law clearly is not an adequate deterrent. Stronger penalties are needed to deter the sale of these dangerous counterfeit drugs.”

The current penalties for introducing counterfeit drugs into interstate commerce are no different than those for trafficking other products, such as electronics or clothing. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act will increase these penalties for criminals that knowingly manufacture, sell or traffic counterfeit medicines to the United States.

“We’re not just talking about mislabeled pills,” Meehan continued. “These drugs can have toxic additives, no active ingredient or a different active ingredient than what the patient believes they are taking. These drugs can be fatal.”

Meehan’s bill would increase the penalties to allow maximum fines and prison terms of $5 million or 20 years, or both, for an individual’s first offense and $15 million or 30 years, or both, for subsequent offenses. Businesses would be fined up to $15 million for a first offense and $30 million for subsequent offenses.

Similar legislation passed the Senate in March. Meehan said he is working to resolve any differences in the bills, which would allow the legislation to be sent to President Obama.