Federal authorities have new tools to wield against pharmaceutical cargo theft and harsher penalties for those who get caught.
President Obama recently signed what is known as the Safe Doses Act. Some of the impetus for the law was to fight theft of highly addictive pain meds from pharmacies, but it was written to include the theft and resale of drugs stolen or diverted anywhere along the supply chain. As in-PharmaTechnologist points out, it will bump up sentences for people who steal drugs or fence them and increase sentences again if someone is found to be harmed from taking drugs that have been stolen. It also gives law enforcement the ability to use wiretaps to investigate the crime.
Pharmaceutical cargo theft has actually dropped dramatically in the last few years as the industry has significantly increased its security measures for shipping and warehousing drugs and medical products. But the problem has not disappeared and the arrest this year of about two dozen suspects tied to the daring heist in 2010 of about $70 million worth of drugs from an Eli Lilly ($LLY) warehouse serves as a reminder of what can happen when organized crime targets pharmaceuticals.
In September, a Florida man was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $55 million for reselling drugs he obtained from cargo thieves. William D. Rodriguez pleaded guilty to conspiring with Altec Medical, a South Carolina-based drug wholesaler, to sell stolen drugs using pedigrees they had ginned up to get them back into the legitimate supply chain. Altec also pleaded guilty to the diversion scheme, was fined $2 million, and ordered to forfeit $1 million.