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No Hurt, So No Alert?

June 15, 2009 – 5:29 pm

I attended David Howard’s impassioned session at MD&M East 2009 last week and immediately grew even more concerned about counterfeiting and diversion threats here in the United States.

Almost halfway through his session, an audience member asked Howard whether the threats he was discussing were here in the United States or just elsewhere in the world. “Both,” he answered matter of factly.

If you, too, have any doubt that counterfeiting and diversion occur in the United States, you may have missed FDA’s weekend announcement about stolen and diverted insulin.

FDA reports that “stolen vials of the long-acting insulin Levemir made by Novo Nordisk Inc. have reappeared and are being sold in the U.S. market. Three lots or a total of 129,000 vials of this product were stolen in all.”

MSNBC reports that the vials were stolen in North Carolina and reappeared at a medical center in Houston. Investigators no doubt are looking at the distribution path of these vials and how they ended up in legitimate practitioners’ hands. Will the lot numbers be enough? Did reading the lot numbers send up red flags–XZF0036, XZF0037 or XZF0038, to be exact–or did it take an affected patient to bring attention to the diversion?

And why is the public just hearing about the theft after the diversion? How many other drug or medical device thefts happen with little to no public notice? Is there a policy of, “No hurt, so no alert?”

Daphne Allen

  1. One Response to “No Hurt, So No Alert?”

  2. It is difficult to really see what the underground for thefts for medications is in the US. While I cannot say much about the rest of the world, it would not be surprising to see a black market for drugs growing in the US. Why? Quite simply, lack of health care for over 45 million Americans is the main driver. Clearly, people without health coverage will take whatever they can get, even if that means stolen drugs. At the end of the day, only in the US which also lacks universal coverage, are drug prices not regulated by any govenment agency. It is shameful.

    By Tony M on Jun 22, 2009

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