H.R. 3668, the Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act, was approved by the House of Representatives on June 18, 2012.  Sponsored by Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.), and Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.), the House bill has stiffer penalties for drug counterfeiters than the Senate approved version.

Reports Bloomberg BNA, the House version of the bill sets the same penalties for drug counterfeiting as those for trafficking in military goods and services, increasing fines to $5 million for individuals and up to 30 years of prison for repeat offenders.  The Senate version of the bill, S. 1886, doubles current fines and prison sentence maximums. 

Current law does not distinguish between counterfeit medicines and counterfeit handbags, said Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration.  Current penalties for medicine counterfeiters are maximum fines of $2 million for individual first offenders, $ 5million for repeat individual offenders, 10 years imprisonment for first offenses and 20 years for repeat offenders.  The Senate's version of the increased penalties are $4 million for individual first offenders, $8 million for individual repeat offenders, and maximum 20 years imprisonment for first and repeat offenders.

The House and Senate now must agree upon the bills' text before the legisilation can be sent on to the White House.

By S. Imber