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NCPA backs measures to combat drug diversion, theft
March 8th, 2012
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has endorsed legislation aimed at cracking down on the theft and diversion of prescription drugs.
NCPA this week expressed its support for the Safe Doses Act (S. 1002), a Senate bill that would increase penalties for theft involving medical products and give law enforcement more options to prevent such crimes.
The association commended Sens. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) and Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) for their work on the legislation.
"NCPA is committed to working with members of Congress and state and local law enforcement officials to combat the inappropriate use and diversion of prescription drugs," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a letter to Leahy and Grassley, who serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We believe S. 1002 would help curb illegitimate pharmaceutical and medical product diversion from the legitimate supply chain."
In the letter, NCPA also cited other ways to help stem drug abuse and diversion, including tax incentives for pharmacies adopting safety and crime prevention efforts, legislation to shut down "pill mills," and mandatory minimum sentences for robberies and burglaries involving controlled substances.
On Thursday, Pennsylvania pharmacy owner Timothy Davis testified on behalf of NCPA at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing on pharmaceutical supply chain security. He described the role that pharmacists play in fostering an effective system of safeguards.
"The current pharmaceutical supply chain in the United States is safe and secure," Davis told lawmakers. "Most practicing pharmacists have a heightened awareness of the possibility of counterfeit or diverted drugs and, therefore, recognize the critical importance of purchasing medications only from trusted wholesalers or trading partners. In addition, most pharmacists today make a concerted effort to carefully examine and make note of drug packaging and the appearance of the drug itself to be sure that there are no suspicious anomalies."
Davis added, "There are a number of different approaches or tactics that could be employed to provide further confirmation of integrity. These strategies could include national, uniform federal license standards for wholesale distributors and logistics providers, increased oversight or security measures to deter pharmaceutical cargo theft and potentially the tracking for prescription drugs at the lot level."
His recommendations included the development of uniform federal license standards for wholesale distributors and logistics providers; passage of the Safe Doses Act (S. 1002) to increase penalties for pharmaceutical cargo theft; approval of the Online Pharmacy Safety Act (H.R. 4095) to create a public "white list" of legitimate Internet pharmacies to be managed by the Food and Drug Administration; and implementation of a lot-level tracking system for prescription drugs, as outlined in Pharmaceutical Distribution Security Alliance proposal.
"Any strategy or plan to tighten up the supply chain must be a multipronged approach, with the understanding that any one measure by itself is not sufficient to realize a discernible improvement," noted Davis. "Moving forward, it is essential that all stakeholders make a concerted effort to keep the lines of communication open so that consumers can continue to implicitly trust the integrity of the medications that they depend upon."