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Legislation Will Protect Patients From Dangers of Stolen Drugs

Safe Doses Act aims to crack down on theft of drugs and other medical products.

The Safe Doses Act, legislation I introduced to fight medical theft, recently passed both the House and the Senate. In a time of intense partisanship, this bipartisan legislation passed both chambers of Congress to protect patients from stolen and mishandled medical products that find their way back to our stores. It currently awaits signature by the president.

Medical theft is a growing form of organized crime that impacts thousands of patients in the U.S. who rely on life-saving drugs every day.

These stolen drugs are sold through a network of middlemen to our stores and patients have no way of knowing if the drugs were tampered with or tainted. The Safe Doses Act addresses each step of the supply chain to crack down on medical theft.

CBS News reported that organized drug rings are turning to medical cargo theft. In 2009, $184 million in prescription drugs were stolen from cargo trucks and warehouses. That is a 350 percent increase over 2007. It has become so prevalent that the Food and Drug Administration labeled the growing medical theft as threatening to public health.

Current federal law did nothing to distinguish between stealing a load of insulin or a truck full of tires. But the potential harm when medical products are involved is much higher. Many prescription drugs require special care and storage. When they are mishandled and then resold into the supply chain, there are life-threatening consequences.

For example, in 2009, 129,000 vials of insulin were stolen in North Carolina and then sold right back into the market to hospitals and pharmacies. The FDA received a report several months later that a diabetic patient was admitted to a medical center in Houston with an adverse reaction after using the stolen insulin. An investigation linked the theft to an organized crime ring, but while some arrests were made, over 125,000 vials of insulin remained in circulation.

In 2010, $75 million in prescription drugs that treat cancer, heart disease, depression and ADHD were stolen from a warehouse in Enfield, CT. The criminals used a well-planned and executed strategy to break into a secure facility on the weekend, disable the alarm system, and steal the drugs. The investigation is still on-going in this case.

I believe we can do better to protect patients from stolen drugs and cut off this source of funding for organized crime.

The Safe Doses Act increases sentences for those who steal medical products and those other middlemen who knowingly obtain stolen medical products for resale into the supply chain. The law also provides and gives restitution for victims injured by stolen medical products.

I am happy that Congress took this important step to fight medical theft. Stolen and mishandled drugs pose a serious risk to public health, and the Safe Doses Act will give law enforcement officials with the tools they need to fight medical theft as organized crime. Patients should be able to trust that their insulin or heart disease medications are safe and secure.

robert heule October 01, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Is there a drug that can cure career politics?
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) October 02, 2012 at 12:34 AM
You liberals obviously love your prescription pain meds. Here I thought you were just crazy over weed.
robert heule October 02, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Most Milwaukee area "burbs" have decrimalized possession of one ounce or less of "weed" Most of the local officials who legislated those ordinances were Republicans. This way they can keep the revenue from fines instead of letting "big government" getting it.
Craig October 02, 2012 at 03:33 AM
If he has no ID then there is no way to access his medical history or records. Unless he has a microchip like we implant in pets, there is no choice but to start from ground zero! So here we have a shining example of stupid. ID is needed for medical treatment and records checks, but not for voting rights? The difference? One is a Liberal Idea, and one is a good idea.
Craig October 02, 2012 at 03:37 AM
There have been red flags raised for decades when Dr's over prescribe drugs. You pharmacist is required by law to report any suspected abuse. In fact if you look at medical suspensions of Drs, you will find it was usually the pharmacist who started the investigation.

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