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Harsher penalties proposed to counter counterfeit drug peddlers

NM-som-20111118.jpgCongress is, yet again, throwing a fit about counterfeits. Now, US lawmakers from both political parties are proposing a new measure to increase the criminal penalties for the manufacture, sale or trafficking of counterfeit medicines.

Currently, prison times and fines for dealing in counterfeits are the same as any other illegal trade. But “counterfeit medication poses a grave danger to public health that warrants a harsher punishment,” the legislation’s co-sponsor Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, wrote in a statement. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act, introduced yesterday in both houses of Congress, would increase the maximum penalties for first-time offenders to 20 years in prison with a $4 million fine; repeat offenders could be dinged as much as $8 million.

But, if precedent on Capitol Hill means anything, this bill is not set to go far. Tim Fagan’s Law, named after a teenager who was injected with counterfeit medicine after a live transplant, was first proposed in 2003 to increase penalties for dealing in counterfeit drugs. However, the legislation has been sitting pretty in committee for six years now, and is reintroduced every year with no advance.

For more on counterfeits, read our April 2010 news focus on the subject.

Image: Bag of seized counterfeit Viagra (sildenafil) via Wikimedia Commons


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