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Matheson aims to stop counterfeit medication

Matheson aims to stop counterfeit medication



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Becky Bruce reportingCounterfeit medication is flooding the pharmaceutical market, and a Utah congressman wants to dry it up.

Jim Matheson's bill would require the drug makers to set up a tracking system for their medications, not unlike the way FedEx and UPS track packages now.

"Everybody in the supply chain already does this anyway. It's just they're not necessarily talking to each other in a uniform way," Matheson said.

Without that communication, Matheson worries about the consequences. "There's no question that this has serious health implications and perhaps even life-and-death implications," he said.

The most commonly counterfeited drugs, according to Matheson, are the kind that would be prescribed for daily use, such as allergy or cholesterol or heart medication. For example, almost 20,000 doses of Lipitor had to be pulled from pharmacy shelves in 2003 because of counterfeiting.

The bill would also give postal inspectors the power to destroy phony drugs if they find them. Right now, those packages get marked "return to sender," meaning they could re-enter the market.

Congressman Steve Buyer from Indiana, a Republican, is co-sponsoring the bipartisan measure.

E-mail: bbruce@ksl.com

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