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Any Drug Subject to Supply-Chain Pain

October 14, 2009 – 11:16 am

The latest theft of pharmaceutical products in the supply chain reminds me of my days as a bank officer and coming across a counterfeit $5 bill. Why didn’t the counterfeiters just stick with $20s and $100s? Why dupe the low denominations?

FDA reported last week that cases of Tylenol Arthritis and Tylenol PM products were stolen September 25 from a cargo terminal at the Jacksonville Port Authority in Jacksonville, FL. McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a div. of McNeil-PPC Inc., is working with FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations to locate the specific lots.

These Tylenol products are popular and certainly in demand. But they are not the high-value, high-return pharma products that have typically been subject to counterfeiting and diversion.

Instead, the theft of Tylenol shows that theft, diversion, and counterfeiting are crimes of opportunity. Criminals probably don’t follow a shopping list of the most profitable drugs to steal or copy–they may just be looking for easy ways of breaching the supply chain.  They may not be searching for drugs at all, instead looking for any easy grab.

FDA details the theft as follows:

* Tylenol Arthritis Pain Caplet 150-count bottles (57,456 bottles).
* Tylenol PM Caplet two-count packets (180,000 two-caplet pouches).

Many pharmaceutical manufacturers continue to explore the use of anticounterfeiting, antidiversion, and antitheft technologies for their high-risk, high-value products. Protecting these products is certainly a priority. But manufacturers should take note that any drug product can fall victim to these crimes. Even a two-caplet pouch.

Daphne Allen

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