Terrorists Could Target Imported Prescription Drugs, FDA Official Says
Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford on Wednesday said that "cues from chatter" collected internationally indicate that terrorists could target the United States' food and drug supply, particularly prescription drugs that are illegally imported from other nations, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. In an interview with the Associated Press, Crawford said the possibility of such an attack is the most serious of his concerns about increased attempts from states and cities to save money by reimporting prescription drugs from Canada. Crawford said that he has been briefed about al-Qaeda threats disclosed during recent arrests and raids; he declined to comment further.
According to Crawford, the agency receives information from "the intelligence community and also from past incidents and things that happened domestically." He noted a 1982 incident in which packages of extra-strength Tylenol were removed from shelves, filled with cyanide and returned for sale, leading to seven deaths. Crawford said, "I would think [that case] is something they would be looking at. Nothing like that has happened, but it is a source of continuing concern." Brian Roehrkasse, spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said, "While we must assume that such a threat exists generally, we have no specific information about any al-Qaida threats to our food or drug supply."
FDA officials have voiced concerns about the safety of importing prescription drugs from other countries; however, the agency to date "has done little more than issue warning letters," the AP/Sun reports. Crawford maintains that some drugs that are shipped illegally are not properly refrigerated, contain the wrong potency of active ingredients or contain no active ingredients at all (Henderson, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 8/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.