Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Drug Theft + Diversion Gets Bigger :(

Drug distribution muckraker Katherine Eban, author of Dangerous Doses, is back with another must-read piece of investigative journalism in Fortune magazine: Drug Theft Goes Big.

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.

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!


  1. Adam, Would this Track and Trace proposal also apply to samples given out by pharma reps?

  2. These drug thefts are happening in this country. It makes me wonder what is happening to medicine that is produced outside the U.S. and whether or not there are decent systems in place to monitor these shipments.

  3. Any thoughts on FDA workshop summary: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/NewsEvents/UCM249331.pdf
    Clearly many more questions than answers.
    Interesting that Europeans have already adopted something and are building it.
    Maybe importing sodium pentothal for violators could work assuming the product isn't counterfeit

  4. You can see Katherine discussing her article on CNBC: Big Pharma’s Big Problem. She focuses on the Kroger story.


  5. Ah the quest for profit !!!!!

  6. AnonymousJune 29, 2011

    Ah the quest for profit !!!!!

  7. AnonymousJune 29, 2011

    Adam, Would this Track and Trace proposal also apply to samples given out by pharma reps?