The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a bill (S. 1886) that would increase penalties for trafficking counterfeit drugs “to reflect the severity of the crime and the harm to the public.” The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act would target violators “that knowingly manufacture, sell or traffic counterfeit medicines to the United States,” according to Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who co-authored the bill.

Noting that under current law counterfeit drug traffickers face the same fines as those trafficking any other counterfeit product, the senators said that they introduced the measure in response to the administration’s Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Inter-Agency Work Group’s recommendation to increase counterfeit-drug penalties. Under the bill, a person convicted of counterfeit drug trafficking could face up to $4 million in fines for a single offense and $8 million for multiple offenses, and up to 20 years in prison.

“Worldwide, counterfeit medicines are a multi-billion dollar industry and growing at an alarming pace, especially over the Internet,” Grassley said. “These medicines pose a serious threat to the health and safety of unsuspecting Americans. The House should act as quickly as possible to ensure that counterfeit drug traffickers are punished accordingly for putting people’s lives at risk with this serious crime.” See Press Releases of Senators Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy, March 7, 2012.