FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Lori Gardner, Senior Director
Communications & Marketing
301.984.9496 ext. 226
For Immediate Release: March 28, 2007
Oncology Practices and Cancer Centers Must Take Steps Now to Ensure the Safety of Their Drug Distribution Network
ROCKVILLE, Md.—With the expensive price tags associated with many drugs used to fight cancer, anti-cancer drugs may be at increased risk for counterfeiting. On Friday, March 30, 2007, at the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ 33rd Annual National Meeting, presenters will examine the extent of the problem and how oncology practices and cancer centers can help safeguard against drug counterfeiting.
“Drug counterfeiters use a wide array of techniques, including diluting or re-labeling drugs, manufacturing fake drugs, or selling ‘compromised drugs,’” according to presenter Rolando DeCardenas, vice president of pharmaceutical distribution for US Oncology. Unfortunately, many of these drugs are hard to detect, because the more sophisticated counterfeiters use equipment that makes pills and bottles appear remarkably authentic. These drugs are then sold at steep discounts to secondary wholesalers.
What can an oncology practice do to safeguard providers and patients?
According to DeCardenas, the answer is two-fold: 1) partner with a distributor that has implemented a drug pedigree system that can trace and authenticate each step of a drug’s journey through the supply chain and/or 2) purchase drugs from a Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributor. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributor certification ensures that a wholesaler has appropriate licensure, internal procedures, and employee background checks in place.
DeCardenas will examine electronic or e-pedigree systems that speed up the pedigree-checking and drug authentication process and improve wholesaler and retailer and provider efforts to identify, quarantine, and report suspected counterfeit drugs. He will also look at current and proposed requirements at the state and national levels.
At the same Friday session, author of “Dangerous Doses” and investigative reporter Katherine Eban will put a human face to the nation’s problem with counterfeit drugs. “I spent…two-and-a-half years following the investigators who uncovered the counterfeits and the patients who received them. I met with the drug makers, distributors, and regulators, as well as those accused of criminal misconduct. ..everywhere I looked, dangerous public health implications had been veiled in secrecy,” wrote Eban.
Eban will explore how counterfeiters can make their way through an often poorly regulated drug distribution system, hurting unsuspecting patients who stake their lives on a drug’s purity and effectiveness.