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Ms. CHU. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 3668, the Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act of 2012, would increase the maximum criminal penalties for trafficking in counterfeit drugs. Counterfeit drugs are a serious public threat to all Americans for several reasons.
To begin with, a person who unknowingly consumes a counterfeit medication may be harmed by dangerous but undisclosed substances in the drug. As a Food and Drug Administration representative testified at a hearing before the Judiciary Committee's Crime Subcommittee, ``a counterfeit drug could be made using ingredients that are toxic to patients and processed under poorly controlled and unsanitary conditions.''
Also, an individual who consumes a counterfeit drug is deprived of meaningful treatment that can respond to life-threatening illnesses. Consider, for example, a patient suffering from a heart ailment or a child who is desperately fighting an aggressive life-threatening infection. The consequences of consuming an ineffective counterfeit drug are blatantly obvious.
By receiving these counterfeit drugs instead of the real medications that they require, each of these individuals would be denied receiving the effective treatment that they must quickly be given in order to address their illnesses.
Finally, the proliferation of counterfeit drugs poses a grave nationwide risk to the public health and safety of all of our citizens. Current technology and distribution channels present the real danger that a very large quantity of these counterfeit drugs could enter into the marketplace where they can injure and possibly risk the lives of many Americans before they are even detected.
The Food and Drug Administration is working with medical product supply chain stakeholders to respond to this emerging threat, but we need to do more. It is critically important for us to reinforce our criminal law so that it clearly addresses the national menace presented by large-scale, intentional trafficking in counterfeit drugs.
Under current law, trafficking in counterfeit drugs receives the same criminal penalty as trafficking in other less dangerous items. This shortcoming in current law explains why the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator supports H.R. 3668, as stated in her recent annual report to Congress.
This bill not only appropriately recognizes the need to treat crimes involving counterfeit medications more seriously, but also requires the Justice Department to prioritize its investigatory and prosecutorial efforts with respect to these crimes.
I am particularly pleased that during the Judiciary Committee's markup of the bill, an amendment offered by my colleague, Congressman Bobby Scott, was adopted that would direct the Attorney General to give increased priority to efforts to investigate and prosecute these offenses.
As amended, this measure appropriately recognizes that, while penalty increases may be warranted, effective deterrence depends mostly on the likelihood of apprehension and conviction of offenders.
I commend the efforts of my colleagues, Congressman Patrick Meehan and Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, for introducing this important legislation.
I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3668, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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