US bill seeks tougher fake drug penalties

gavel and lawbookA new bill in the US is seeking to tighten its grip on fraudsters who attempt to sell counterfeit medicines in the country.

The new bill aims to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with a mind to "increase criminal penalties for the sale or trade of prescription drugs knowingly caused to be adulterated or misbranded and to establish recall authority regarding drugs", according to legal documents.

The harsher new penalties will include the ability to imprison those for life who knowingly sold spurious medicine. This is not available under current laws, which only hands down the power to imprison these types of criminals for between three and 10 years.

The bill, also known as 'Tim Fagan's Law', would in addition mandate that a pharma firm that had been made aware that its drugs may have been adulterated or misbranded to tell the US drugs regulatory the FDA within 48 hours.

In a boost for the FDA, the bill would also release an extra $60m to investigate counterfeit medications over the next three years.

The US regulator would be allowed to order firms to recall a drug after holding what the bill states would be an 'informal hearing'. This would have to be done within 10 days of notifying the company that it must cease distribution of a drug.

The FDA's chief counsel, which deals with legal issues on behalf of the regulator, would also be given the authority to issue a summons related to drug counterfeiting investigations.

This follows a spate of new legislation in the US aimed at cracking down on fake medicines

In late 2013 President Barack Obama signed into law the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) that aims to "minimise opportunities for contamination, adulteration, diversion, or counterfeiting".

Over the past five years the US has been the target of a number of counterfeit drugs, including more recently instances of fake versions of Roche's cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab), as well as a series of other illegitimate medicines.

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