Prozac and Cymbalta are among the products stolen from Eli Lilly and Co. over the weekend, the company reported today. More than 30 lots of products were stolen from the company’s distribution operations in Enfield, CT.
“Since early Sunday morning, Lilly has taken quick and appropriate actions to ensure the safety of our medicines,” said Dr. Fionnuala M. Walsh, Lilly’s senior vice president of global quality, in a statement on the company’s Web site. “The U.S. pharmaceutical distribution system is tightly controlled and monitored, making it extremely difficult for stolen product to make it to patients through legitimate channels. However, we will continue to work closely with local and federal law enforcement authorities, the FDA, and our distribution partners to maintain the integrity of our drug supply chain.”
According to this statement, only partial lots were stolen. “Product from the affected lots which had been delivered from Lilly to retailers, wholesalers, or institutions prior to March 14 was approved for its intended use and is not affected by this event,” the company states. “Product containing these lot numbers has been distributed by Lilly within the United States, Puerto Rico, and its territories.” Lilly stopped distributing product with the affected lot numbers on Monday.
Suppliers to the pharma industry have pointed to the vulnerabilities of tracking drugs solely by lot number and continue to advocate item-level serialization or authentication technologies like taggants. Product movement cannot always pinpointed as precisely with lot numbers as it can with serial numbers or unique markers, they say.
FDA is under a FDAAA deadline to release its suggested Standardized Numerical Identifier for serializing prescription drugs this month.
Eli Lilly is putting its faith in the supply chain. Could that faith be shaken by articles like this one at Newser.com from the Associated Press that suggests stolen drugs could make their way back into the legitimate supply?