On Nov. 17, 2011, a bill that would increase penalties for those convicted of trafficking in counterfeit drugs was introduced in the House of Representatives. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act of 2011, cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA), would set maximum fines of $4 million for an individual and $10 million for a “person other than an individual,” and a maximum jail sentence of life imprisonment for an individual convicted of counterfeit drug trafficking.
Under current law, no distinction is made between counterfeit drugs and other counterfeit consumer items, such as clothing or electronics. The amendment is intended to address the severity of the crime and the potential for harm to the public. “These drugs present a serious threat to the health and safety of people around the world. It’s important we address this threat by imposing harsher penalties on criminals who counterfeit these medicines,” said Senator Grassley in a press release.
Pfizer issued a statement in support of the bill. The company has confirmed counterfeit versions of more than 50 of its medicines in at least 101 countries, according to the statement. Pfizer supports the tougher penalties, saying that they will afford patients greater safety. The proposed legislation “demonstrates that the US is prepared to lead in ensuring safety of the global drugs supply—both by putting a very tough anticounterfeiting law into effect in the world’s largest drugs market and by encouraging partner nations to put similar laws into effect,” according to the statement.