Report: Tracking system is needed to fight fake drugs

The Associated Press /

WASHINGTON — Fighting the problem of fake drugs will require creating a national drug-tracking system, the Institute of Medicine said in a new report.

The call for putting medications through a chain of custody, like U.S. courts require for evidence in a trial, comes not long after the Food and Drug Administration warned doctors that it had discovered a counterfeit batch of the cancer drug Avastin.

Fake and substandard drugs have become an increasing concern as U.S. pharmaceutical companies move more of their manufacturing overseas.

A mandatory drug-tracking system could use barcodes or electronic tags to verify that a medication and the ingredients used in it are authentic at every step, from the manufacturing of the active ingredient all the way to the pharmacy, said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of health law at Georgetown University who led the IOM committee that studied the growing problem.

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