Steps taken by the House Energy and Commerce committee last week will help us further secure America's prescription drug supply against the threat of counterfeit drugs and help protect millions of our nation's citizens, young and old, who depend on life-saving medications. While no single solution can address the growing threat of counterfeit prescription drugs, technology can enhance security and frustrate the introduction of counterfeit products into our prescription drug supply. In 2003, the most recent year in which numbers are available, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that counterfeit drugs accounted for 10 percent of all medications sold worldwide. Sales of fake medications that year hit an astronomical $32 billion, with $200 million of that seized in the United States -- a sevenfold increase from the previous year.

As a former FBI special agent, I can tell you that where that kind of money can be made, criminals will be drawn to it. And now, with the booming growth in Internet pharmacies, the potential for moving counterfeit drugs increases vastly. The WHO tells us that Internet sales from sites concealing their address are counterfeit in more than 50 percent of cases.

The legislation adopted by the Energy and Commerce panel requires the HHS Secretary to develop, recommend and promote standards to encourage the development and adoption of anti-counterfeiting technologies. It authorizes additional appropriations to enhance joint enforcement activities and to coordinate inspections and enforcement wherever counterfeit products may be introduced. A coordinated inspection and enforcement effort to identify and punish criminals who seek to infiltrate the prescription drug supply with counterfeits is necessary to properly confront this increasingly sophisticated threat to patient health and safety.