Wednesday, March 7, 2012
WASHINGTON - The Senate Tuesday night unanimously approved a bill authored by U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to increase penalties for trafficking counterfeit drugs. The legislation responds to recommendations made by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and the administration's Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Inter-agency Working Group.
The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act will increase penalties for the trafficking of counterfeit drugs to reflect the severity of the crime and the harm to the public. While it is currently illegal to introduce counterfeit drugs into interstate commerce, the penalties are no different than those for the trafficking of other products, such as electronics or clothing. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act will target violators that knowingly manufacture, sell or traffic counterfeit medicines to the United States.
"We cannot allow the counterfeiting of life-saving medicine to be just one more low-risk venture from which international organized criminals can profit," said Leahy. "While we should not expect that enactment of this or any legislation will completely deter the serious problem of counterfeit medication entering the American supply chain, it is an important step in the fight. I urge the House of Representatives to act quickly on this legislation."
"Worldwide counterfeit medicines are a multi-billion dollar industry, and growing at an alarming pace, especially over the internet. These medicines pose a serious threat to the health and safety of unsuspecting Americans," Grassley said. "The House should act as quickly as possible to ensure that counterfeit drug traffickers are punished accordingly for putting people's lives at risk with this serious crime. "
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Robert Casey (D-Pa.). Companion legislation in the House of Representatives was introduced last year by Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.).
It has been reported that counterfeit drugs result in 100,000 fatalities globally each year, and account for an estimated $75 billion in annual revenue for criminal enterprises.
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