Senators propose RICO-fueled crackdown on drug thefts

Five U.S. Senators have formed an anti-pharma-theft posse. They have sponsored a bill that would boost the penalties for stealing drugs, Pharmalot reports, relying on RICO--the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization law, which was originally designed to prosecute organized crime--for help.

Drug thefts have been on the rise recently, but it's not just the number of robberies that's causing concern. It's also that the criminals have turned to edgier strategies. They've stolen delivery trucks out from under their drivers and broken into warehouses Mission Impossible-style. Just this week in Australia, three men armed themselves with sledgehammers to make off with the highly marketable pain drugs codeine and pseudoephedrine, the latter of which is used to make crystal meth.

But it's not just common street drugs that thieves have targeted: They've also made off with insulin, which, if stored improperly, could be dangerous for diabetics. So, the U.S. proposal would explicitly make it illegal to store, transport or change labels on stolen medical products, Pharmalot notes. That would help law enforcement crack down on drug thieves, who pulled off $184 million worth of robberies in 2010.

- read the senators' release
- get the news from Pharmalot
- see the story in the Sydney Morning Herald

Special Report: Top 10 Pharma Cargo Thefts by Value, 2009/2010