Proposed Bill Would Make Medical Products Theft Prosecutable under RICO Statute

By Axendia Staff

The rising trend in stolen pharmaceuticals and medical devices has become a major safety and security issue across the world. According to data from the National Drug Intelligence Center, last year $184 million worth of prescription drugs were stolen in the U.S., a 350% increase from 2007.

Organized crime syndicates have come up with sophisticated and systematic ways to steal pharmaceuticals and medical devices while such products are in-transit, showing dangerous gaps within Global Supply Chain. Once these products are ‘off the radar’ they can be repackaged and put back on the street, or in some cases wind up back in pharmacies and hospitals. This can pose a dangerous health threats to unwitting patients whose medicines or devices have been tainted. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Last year, several diabetes patients lost control of their blood-sugar levels after they unwittingly used stolen insulin, which must be refrigerated.”

To curb this trend, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Bill Nelson (D-FL), have introduced legislation to make the theft of medical products prosecutable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Statute. This would give law enforcement access to wiretaps and other sophisticated tools.

To crack down on this trend, the proposed bill would:

  • Increase sentences for the theft of medical products and for transportation and storage of stolen medical products, and apply that increase to each current section of federal law that could be used by prosecutors to charge such crimes;
  • Enhance penalties for stolen medical product “fences,” including individuals and organizations who knowingly obtain stolen products for resale into the supply chain;
  • Increase sentences when harm occurs or trust is broken – In other words, where the defendant is employed by an organization in the supply chain or where there was a death as the result of ingestion of a stolen substance; 
  • Make theft of medical products a predicate for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, giving law enforcement access to wiretaps and other sophisticated tools;
  • Provide for civil penalties and forfeiture of ill-gotten gains derived from medical product theft.

Controlling the Life-Science Global Supply Chain to prevent such thefts requires collaboration by the entire Ecosystem, including Brand Owners, Suppliers and Regulators.

Axendia’s research report, “Achieving Global Supply Chain Visibility, Control & Collaboration in Life-Sciences: Regulatory Necessity, Business Imperative” provides specific recommendations Life-Science stakeholders should consider to close the loop across the complete over the complete Supply and Value Chains, from ingredient to patient.

To request a copy of the report, click here.

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