Modern Healthcare (07/25/12) Lee, Jaimy
A Congressional report that tracked the pedigrees of 300 drugs bought and sold on the gray market found that secondary drug distributors acquired about 70 percent of drugs in short supply from pharmacies,The report is part of an investigation into grey market activity that was launched in 2011. The report found that the drugs "leak out of authorized distribution chains, often through pharmacies that sell to wholesale distributors, and are sold to end-users at aggressively marked-up prices" adding that such "questionable business practices ... result in higher healthcare costs and potential risks to patients." The drugs in short supply that were acquired by pharmacies are ones mainly used in hospitals, indicating that they were purchases to be sold to a secondary distributor. Business with pharmacy licenses that only buy and sell drugs in short supply were found by the investigation, as were drug brokers that recruited pharmacies to act as purchasing agent. The investigation also found that drugs that are bought and sold on the grey market have typically been owned by as three or four grey-market business before being sold to a provider. One of the report authors, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), noted that the main finding was "that out drug distribution system has weak points, and gray-market companies know how to exploit them."