Senate Passes Bennet-Backed Bill to Crack Down on Counterfeit Drugs

Bipartisan Bill Represents Latest Bennet Effort to Improve Drug Safety, Crack Down on Bad Actors

Bennet Renews Call for Universal System to Track Drugs Through the Supply and Distribution Chains

The U.S. Senate passed with broad bipartisan support a bill cosponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), to crack down on counterfeit drug trafficking by stiffening penalties on bad actors. 

The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act will increase penalties for trafficking counterfeit drugs to reflect the severity of the crime and the harm to the public. While it is currently illegal to introduce counterfeit drugs into interstate commerce, the penalties are no different than those for the trafficking of other products, such as electronics or clothing. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act will target violators that knowingly manufacture, sell or traffic counterfeit medicines to the United States.

“As we have seen most recently with counterfeits of the cancer drug Avastin, counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs are putting Coloradans and Americans at risk, and I’m glad to see the Senate respond to this very real threat,” Bennet said. “Right now, the penalties for producing a fake company logo on a bottle of counterfeit drugs are more severe than they are for actually making and selling a counterfeit drug. We can help prevent these drugs from reaching hospitals, pharmacies and consumers by giving law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on these crimes and creating a universal system to track these drugs through the supply and distribution chains.”

The bill comes on the heels of reports that a counterfeit version of Avastin cancer drug has been found in the United States and responds to recommendations made by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and the Administration’s Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Inter-Agency Working Group. The bill has the backing of the AARP, the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP), and the National Association of Chain Drugs Stores (NACDS) among others.

The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act represents the latest effort by Bennet to improve drug safety, crack down on bad actors and protect Colorado consumers.

Bennet has also pushed for a universal system to monitor pharmaceutical drugs through the supply and distribution chains to help avoid critical drug shortages and increase prescription drug safety. This would allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to efficiently monitor individual drugs, thereby ensuring that all drugs are manufactured, stored and distributed safely and that they enter distribution channels legally. In response, the FDA expressed support for such a universal system.

Last year, Bennet penned an op-ed for Politico titled, “How Safe Is Your Medicine Cabinet?”, which laid out the case for comprehensive FDA reform that protects patients from potentially dangerous and adulterated drugs. He also delivered the keynote address at the Pew Charitable Trusts’ conference in March titled, “After Heparin: A Roundtable on Ensuring the Safety of the U.S. Drug Supply,” in which he highlighted the need for increased industry and regulatory controls to protect patients and ensure the safety of drugs in the United States. 

Last Congress, Bennet introduced the Drug Safety and Accountability Act of 2010, which would enhance the ability of the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure U.S. drugs are both safe and effective regardless of where they are made. For more information on this bill, please click here. He is currently working on an expanded bipartisan version of that bill to be introduced this year.