More Education, Enforcement Needed to Protect Patients from Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2014) – Marv Shepherd, President of the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM), released the following statement on today’s hearing on counterfeit medicines held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The hearing, titled “Counterfeit Drugs: Fighting Illegal Supply Chains” brought to light some disturbing trends that must be addressed in order to ensure America’s patients are adequately protected from the dangers of counterfeit medicines:

 “Today was an important step in the global war against counterfeit drugs,” said Shepherd. “It is PSM’s sincere hope that today’s hearing sparks a new wave of efforts, by our government and by industry, providers and patient groups to better educate consumers on the risks of counterfeit medicines and to work together to eradicate this growing menace.

The numbers alone speak to the urgent need for both more education and enforcement. By some estimates, 36 million Americans have purchased prescription medicines online without a prescription, and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy estimates that 97 percent of all online pharmacies don’t meet even the most basic pharmacy laws and practice standards. That is, put very simply, a recipe for disaster. 

First and foremost, counterfeit prescription medicines are a public health issue. The bottom line is that criminal enterprises have been evolving and innovating at a faster pace than our government’s efforts to stop them, and that must change soon. While both the FDA and Congress have taken strides to educate and protect American patients, much more must be done. We commend Congress for passing the Drug Quality and Safety Act last year, which will strengthen the security of the drug supply chain. As the worldwide prevalence of counterfeit drugs continues to increase, it is imperative that we work together to ensure that the prescription drug supply chain in the U.S. remains the safest in the world. For the sake of millions of American patients who rely on prescription medicines, we can and must do better.”