Bennet-Backed Bill to Crack Down on Prescription Drug Theft, Protect Colorado Consumers Passes Senate Committee with Broad Bipartisan Support

Bill Seeks to Stem the Skyrocketing Cases of Medical Product Cargo and Pharmacy Robberies

Follows Senate Passage of Bill to Crack Down on Counterfeit Drugs

The Senate Judiciary Committee today passed with broad bipartisan support a bill backed by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to protect consumers from stolen medical supplies and drugs and to curb the accessibility of addictive prescription drugs.

The Strengthening and Focusing Enforcement to Deter Organized Stealing and Enhanced Safety Act, or the SAFE DOSES Act, would prevent stolen medical products and prescription drugs from entering the black market by cracking down on the theft of medical product cargo and increasing penalties for pharmacy robbery. The bill was introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). 

“Colorado families dealing with a loved one’s illness should not have to deal with the additional worry of whether the prescription drugs they buy legally might have been stolen, mishandled or sold on the black market without reaching their homes,” Bennet said. “This bill will help crack down on the sale and supply of black market drugs, and it will help protect pharmacists and their employees from thefts targeting prescription drugs.”

Last year, Bennet visited a number of pharmacies that had been burglarized at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars in lost merchandise and repairs. Pharmacies in Colorado in cities and towns including Broomfield, Colorado Springs, Denver, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge have been victimized.

Nationally, news reports have noted that armed robberies at pharmacies increased by 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 380 to 686, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, while the number of pills stolen went from 706,000 to 1.3 million.  These products then enter the black market and often are re-introduced into the legitimate supply chain, threatening the safety of consumers and increasing accessibility of addictive prescription drugs. Unsuspecting consumers are at-risk of purchasing improperly cared-for and potentially ineffective or dangerous stolen medical products that are back in the legitimate market.

Under current law, the penalty for stealing music CDs is the same as stealing the most complex medical drugs despite the vast difference in ability to harm consumers when these products return into the normal supply chain. The SAFE DOSES Act, which Bennet introduced along with U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ), would provide law enforcement with the tools they need to crackdown on criminals stealing prescription drugs. For more information on the bill, click here.

The vote follows full Senate passage of a bipartisan bill Bennet cosponsored to crack down on counterfeit drugs. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act, which increases penalties for trafficking counterfeit drugs to reflect the severity of the crime and the harm to the public, passed the Senate late Tuesday night with broad bipartisan support.