Once the challenge was made, it took the U.S. eight and a half years to land a man on the moon. It’s going to take longer to implement a law that would help keep patients safe.
In early June the US House of Representatives passed legislation that would require manufacturers to place trackable bar codes on every drug package they ship but doesn’t require drug wholesalers or pharmacies to adopt a computerized tracking system. The Senate passed a similar bill and it does require wholesalers and pharmacies to have traceability but not for 10 years from now.
In the past 6 years there have been 81 deaths and 800 serious injuries from poisonous ingredients in heparin. Instances of fake chemotherapy drugs being given to cancer patients has been well documented and counterfeit Lipitor in the market has made national headlines but there’s no good way to trace the fake drugs or bad components to their source.
Almost 80% of the pharmaceutical ingredients used to make US drugs come from abroad as do more than 40% of the finished products. The FDA does a good job policing US made pharmaceuticals but it’s reach does not extend beyond our borders. A system that could trace ingredients back to the source could help to improve patient safety. A tracking system could also be beneficial when a drug recall occurs.
I understand the concern about additional governmental oversight, cost of a tracing system and potential drug shortages as a result of implementation of such a system but I don’t understand why it should take longer to figure out how to track the ingredients of a drug intended to save a life as it did to place a man on the moon.