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Free Drugs

Posted Oct 07 2008 7:17pm
This article could be easily be entitled Hijacked Pharmaceuticals. Quietly, there is a growing problem of stolen pharmaceuticals in the United States.

Pharmaceuticals, like 70% of the products in the U.S., are shipped by truck. And these trucks sometimes need to stop. And that’s when problems are occurring. The trailer is disconnected from the tractor and hauled off. The Dept. of Homeland Security, FBI and various local law enforcement agencies have been investigating a rash of truck thefts and it seems like an inside job. Employees of the contracted trucking company tip off the thieves (typically an organized crime ring). The trucks are taken to an urban center, the drugs are offloaded and split up, and then the trailer is dumped in an undesirable neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the drugs are destined for the black and gray market. Drugs like Watson’s generic version of Vicodin, EPOs and erectile dysfunction drugs are sold on the black market here in the U.S. And drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, Fosamax and other significant medical conditions seem to be shipped overseas and dumped on local markets. Numerous drugs with U.S. labeling have been showing up in Western Europe and South America (without proper paperwork and at steeply discounted prices). It's a kind of reverse importation system.

But here’s the problem – many drugs for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis need to be temperature controlled. When the thieves take the drugs, they often don’t ship the drugs in temperature controlled containers, rendering the drugs sub-potent or completely ineffective. Patient’s lives are being put at risk.

Of course, RFID and chain-of-custody protocols can minimize some of this, but the supply chain for pharmaceutical products is still vulnerable.
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