The article highlights the increasingly-sophisticated criminal gangs who are targeting pharmaceutical products. Ms. Eban also tells the fascinating and scary story of how stolen Novo Norvisk products were dispensed by Kroger (NYSE:KR), which allegedly bought product with a forged pedigree from a secondary wholesaler. Yikes!
Alas, Ms. Eban falls short when it comes to solutions, falling into the standard journalist’s trope of blaming manufacturers for not tagging more products. A noble sentiment, but e-pedigree and track-and-trace technologies only work if pharmacy buyers agree to authenticate (scan) an electronic tag. Note that chain pharmacies still officially oppose national track-and-trace legislation—as recently as March 17, 2011!
As you can imagine, "Don't ask, don't tell" is the mantra of people who buy diverted products from unsavory secondary resellers. If the price is too good to be true, then pharmacy buyer beware.
Read on for more details.
- I highlighted the appearance of stolen products in legitimate pharmacies in two posts last summer: Why is Stolen Shire Product Being Returned for Credit? and How did stolen GSK product end up in pharmacies? The article obliquely references these examples.
- The risk of diversion—illustrated quite clearly in the Fortune article—is one of the main reasons that I oppose importation legislation. Politically-motivated, anti-pharma advocates are blind to these very real dangers. See Importation is back? Really?!?
- I took Ms. Eban to task last year for her New York Times editorial that blithely blamed drug companies for being “reluctant to pay the nominal cost of tagging pills and bottles.” See Reality Check on Supply Chain Security
Fans of drug channels should definitely read Dangerous Doses, Ms. Eban’s 2005 book. The book is dated because industry changes have addressed many of the secondary market problems described in the book. Nonetheless, it is a highly readable and suspense-filled story that will help you understand why Florida passed a pedigree law. Highly recommended!