When I went up to Albany on May 19-20 to lobby the legislature on civil justice issues, I also sat down with Assemblywoman Amy Paulin for 15 minutes on Assembly TV. The purpose was to discuss her legislation on counterfeit drugs.
The issue had come to her attention due to media coverage of New York teen Timothy Fagan, who I had represented. Tim had been injected back in 2002 with counterfeit Epogen after an emergency liver transplant at the age of 16. Tim’s drugs, it had ultimately been discovered, had been low dose 2,000 u/ml Epogen that was sold out the back door of a Florida pharmacy, “uplabeled” at a trailer park to 40,000 u/ml, a dose 20 times stronger, and sold back into the mainstream distribution system. His medication had been owned by at least 10 different companies around the country as they were traded through a vast secondary market of wholesalers before finding their way into his drugstore on Long Island and then his home. This was the source of a 60 Minutes story, among other national coverage, as well as a book. (See, Counterfeit Drugs Resource Page at my website, for background. And more on this blog at the counterfeit drugs label.)
The bill Assemblywoman Paulin now sponsors would force electronic pedigree labels on drugs from the point of manufacture through the distribution system. With the distribution system locked down, it would make it exceptionally difficult for counterfeiters to penetrate. I had first discussed this with her back in 2006 and was at her side for her first press conference on the subject.
While I hesitate to let readers see the too-serious side of me from an audio-visual perspective, the issue is, frankly, too important not to discuss. If counterfeits could make it into Tim’s house, they could make it into your house, my house or the White House. So here is the clip: