Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cosmic irony in the drug supply chain

Last week provided cosmic irony of epic proportions for anyone concerned about the safety and security of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain.

Let’s begin on solid ground. On Tuesday, the Congressional Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources (or CSCJDPHR, to its friends) held another hearing on pharmaceutical supply chain security. (Written testimony is available for your reading pleasure here.)

The following quotes caught my eye:
  1. Kevin Delli-Colli, Deputy Assistant Director, Financial & Trade Investigations Division, Office of Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security (Wow – he must have an extra large business card!) said: “To date, ICE investigations have not revealed any instances in which smuggled, counterfeit pharmaceuticals were destined for the legitimate U.S. supply chain; rather, trafficking organizations have created an illicit, unregulated supply chain that is filled with counterfeit, adulterated, misbranded and unsafe drugs which are distributed directly to consumers, who in most instances are drug abusers.”
  2. Carmen A. Catizone, Executive Director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy noted “…the reckless actions of local, state, and federal public officials who ignore public health and safety in order to promote the illegal importation of drugs as a item of political pandering.”
But on the very same day that this evidence-based testimony was being heard, the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 to make it easier for Americans to import cheaper prescription medications from Canada.


The Senate exhibited the worst kind of truthiness* when it deliberately avoids troublesome facts about the dangers of personal importation. Even more ironic is the fact that Part D is already displacing Canada, as evidenced by Minnesota’s illegal importation program.

Sometimes I really get scared about the way that policy gets made in this country.

* For those who have never seen Stephen Colbert, truthiness is defined as “…the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination.”

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