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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Large-scale medical product theft is a significant problem in today's society. Medical products require special care and maintenance. When medical products are stolen, thieves resell them. When these drugs are not stored or handled properly, they can lose their effectiveness and cause further injury to medical patients.
Current law does not recognize the added importance of medical products. These products are often essential to a person's health and can be lifesaving.
Under federal law, those who steal a truck full of insulin intended for diabetics would be sentenced to the same extent as those who steal a truck full of car tires.
In 2009, an organized ring of criminals stole 129,000 vials of insulin worth approximately $11 million in North Carolina. A few months later, the FDA received a report that some of the vials had been reintroduced into the supply chain when a diabetic patient reported to a medical center in Houston, Texas, with an adverse reaction after use of insulin from the stolen lot.
The FDA issued a warning that the insulin had likely not been kept refrigerated correctly and could still be in the market. The spoiled product was ultimately found in pharmacies in 17 states. At least 2 additional patients experienced adverse reactions. While some arrests have been made, over 125,000 vials of insulin still remain unaccounted for.
Shipments of drugs that treat kidney failure, ADHD, schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis and ovarian cancer were stolen in three separate incidents between 2008 and 2009.
The prescription drugs, worth over $3 million, were taken during a distribution center break-in and in two separate trailer break-ins. The FBI made an arrest in only one of the three incidents, and the criminal was convicted.
H.R. 4223, the SAFE DOSES Act, modernizes and strengthens the criminal code in order to deter and punish those who steal pre-retail medical products. Enhanced penalties not only make people think twice before they steal medical shipments, but also provide law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to obtain cooperation to bring down criminal organizations.
The SAFE DOSES Act enables authorities to better target the multi-dimensional criminal enterprises that carry out these thefts and recognizes the health risks created by the improper care and handling of sensitive medical products.
This bipartisan bill helps to ensure that life-saving drugs remain in the hands of those trained to handle them, and do not continue to pose a threat to public safety. I commend Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner for his work on this legislation and urge my colleagues to join me in support of this bill.
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