Bill cites fakes dangers, ups penalties

Increased jail time and financial penalties for drug counterfeiters are the subject of a bill proposed by U.S. legislators. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act is a bipartisan proposal encompassing the manufacture, trafficking and sales of fake drugs.

The proposed legislation would boost the maximum prison sentence to 20 years for first-time individual offenders, with a maximum fine of $4 million, reports Securing Pharma. For repeat offenders, the fine can reach $8 million. Fines for institutions can reach $10 million for a first offense, $20 million for repeats.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate and is joined by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) are leading the effort in the House. The legislation comes in response to recommendations made by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and the Obama administration's Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Inter-agency Working Group, Leahy notes in a release.

Leahy says drug counterfeiting penalties--long bemoaned by pharma companies--are the same as those for trafficking consumer goods, which pose no physical threat to people. "This legislation will raise those penalties to a level that meets the severity of the offense."

PhRMA has already praised the lawmakers for introducing the legislation. "In the U.S., the jail sentence for a counterfeiting crime is typically three years, but we believe that more significant criminal penalties, including as much as 20 years imprisonment, is more appropriate for such a potentially deadly crime."

- read Leahy's statement
- check out PhRMA's release
- get more from Securing Pharma