CVS has decided to no longer purchase
medicines from wholesalers that
trade in the secondary market. Officials
of the nation's 3 biggest pharmaceutical
wholesalers, Cardinal Health,
AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson,
however, do not believe that the recent
decision will impact their business.
"The CVS decision is consistent
with Cardinal Health's practices to
purchase all branded pharmaceuticals
direct from the manufacturers," said
Cardinal spokesman Jim Mazzola.
"We previously bought the vast
majority in that manner, but as of July
1, 2005, we will purchase all branded
pharmaceuticals directly from the manufacturer.
Cardinal will purchase generics
only either direct from the manufacturer
or through a pretty select group of
authorized distributors," he said.
AmerisourceBergen also does not
anticipate any problems as a result of
the retail pharmacy chain's announcement.
"It does not impact us. We are
very comfortable with their [CVS]
decision," said company spokesman
Michael Kilpatric. "We purchase only
one half of 1% of our purchases from
authorized distributors. The remaining
are bought directly from the manufacturer.
In fact, AmerisourceBergen has a
list of 10,000 items that may be a problem,
such as Lipitor [for drug counterfeiting],
that are only bought directly
from the manufacturer," he added.
McKesson did not wish to comment
on the CVS decision.
CVS is adding more levels of scrutiny
to ensure the continued reliability of the
pharmaceutical supply chain. Concerns
have been mounting that wholesalers
trading in the secondary market potentially
provide an entry point for counterfeit
or adulterated products to enter the
legitimate pharmaceutical marketplace.
In a statement, Rep Steve Israel (D,
NY) praised the decision. It shows " that
even the drug industry believes it is
time to clean up the prescription sales
chain. The fact that, while most Americans
trust the doctors who write their
prescriptions and the pharmacists who
fill the prescriptions, in between the
manufacturer and pharmacy prescription
drugs can change hands up to a
dozen times, in a shady gray market,
where they can be tainted, diluted,
relabeled, and counterfeited."
On May 9, 2005, Rep Israel introduced
Tim Fagan's Law, or HR 2345.
The legislation seeks to increase criminal
penalties for the sale or trade of
counterfeit prescription drugs; to
modify requirements for maintaining
records of the chain of custody of prescription
drugs; and to establish recall
authority for the FDA.
The law is named after teenager Tim
Fagan who was given counterfeit epoetin
alfa (Epogen) to combat anemia.
Fagan's mother was giving him the
injections after he underwent a liver
transplant in 2002. After each injection,
he would scream in agony and
experience full body cramps. The family
did not understand the cause until
they received a call from the pharmacy
that filled the prescription, alerting
them that it had distributed at least
one counterfeit batch of the drug.