The Global Marketplace And Pharmaceuticals

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    The US is a gateway for pharmaceuticals from just about anywhere on the globe. Though this presents an opportunity for a diversity of options, it also presents a staggering challenge for security forces to protect us against related vulnerabilities. Due to the complexity of the global pharmaceutical supply chain, it is more important than ever to secure the integrity of our domestic drug supply.

    We attempt to embrace the promise of this increasingly global economy while protecting the health and safety of American consumers. According to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, India and China are known to have less robust pharmaceutical regulations than the US, yet they play a major role in providing the US with 80% of the active ingredients used in US-made drug products. In fact, there are more than 150 countries that are involved in supplying active ingredients to the US. In addition, a full 40% of the finished drug products which stock our medicine cabinets come from abroad, and it is projected that this trend will increase into the future.

    The real reason for concern is demonstrated in the tragic deaths of 150 patients in 2007 that were linked to the use of contaminated Heparin. It is essential to hold foreign drug distributors to the same standards as American distributors in order to level the playing field and better protect consumers.

    Securing the pharmaceutical supply chain was the focus of a hearing which was held September 14, 2011 by the United States Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions. It was noted that with the increase in supply chain complexity, “authorities have not kept pace with the challenges of the current global marketplace” and that “these factors create great challenges to FDA and industry in ensuring that all drugs are high quality and travel safely throughout their complex supply chains.”

    It is obvious that greater security and safety measures are needed to help to ensure the integrity and quality of drugs entering the US. For more in-depth information, video clips of the September 14th hearing and links to full witness testimony are available on the Senate committee’s website.

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