Monday, June 3, 2013

State-based drug tracking puts Americans at risk By Gregory Conko - 06/03/13 01:00 PM ET

When consumers take prescription and over-the-counter drugs — as more than half of all Americans do each month — they expect those medicines to improve their health, not harm it.

Yet ineffective counterfeit drugs for pain, attention deficit disorder, erectile dysfunction and even the flu have all been recently discovered in U.S. pharmacies. And in the past year, the Food and Drug Administration has had to issue multiple warnings about fake cancer drugs that have penetrated the supply chain. When even a tiny fraction of the medications we rely on are faulty, contaminated, or counterfeit, the health of millions is put at risk.

Over the past several years, pharmaceutical makers have been working with distributors and pharmacies to develop methods that make it easier to spot and eliminate tainted and counterfeit products. Together, they have developed technologies ranging from tamper-proof packaging and unique identification codes to authentication tools such as holograms and color-shifting printing, all of which help protect the integrity of the medicines we buy.

Unfortunately, state legislators and regulators have begun to implement a maze of inflexible, expensive and often conflicting traceability and pedigree rules that threaten to short-circuit these innovations and jeopardize the effectiveness of industry-wide quality control programs.

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