Pfizer Addresses Illegal Drug Issue

Published Online: Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Pfizer Inc continues to fight against counterfeiting and the sale of illegal unapproved drugs. According to a company official, the US Department of Justice's crackdown on the international sales of illegal and unapproved pharmaceuticals over the Internet is a "major step forward" in maintaining a safe and secure drug-distribution system. That government agency recently reported the arrest of 16 suspects and seized more than $6 million in conjunction with a multi-country effort to address this growing problem.

"More and more often we're seeing counterfeit or otherwise illegal medicines reaching unsuspecting patients. It's becoming a real threat to public health that could become an even greater problem if legislation is passed supporting the importation of pharmaceutical products from other countries," said Jeff Kindler, Pfizer's vice chairman and general counsel, in a statement.

He emphasized that illegal or counterfeit drugs may be manufactured in unregulated settings where the strict standards required by the FDA are not met. Through its own investigation, Pfizer has discovered that consumers may even receive medications that they did not order. The company does not support legalizing importation as an option to make the drug-distribution system safer. Kindler said that doing so would only make existing problems worse by considerably weakening the FDA's ability to safely regulate pharmaceuticals entering the United States from other countries.

In its efforts to tackle counterfeit and illegal drugs, Pfizer's ongoing initiatives have included the following:

  • Initiation of legal action against on-line "pharmacies" and cooperation with law-enforcement agencies to block sales of counterfeit Pfizer products
  • Coordination with government, law enforcement, and other agencies to stop the importation of pharmaceutical products and to seize those products
  • Implementation of public education programs to inform consumers about safely purchasing medicines through the Internet
  • Testing of hundreds of products annually to determine their authenticity

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