TRENTON - Penalties for distribution of counterfeit drugs and medical devices would be increased during states of emergency under legislation passed unanimously by the full Assembly on Monday.
Under current law, it is a crime to knowingly create, distribute, dispense, administer, install, implant, or possess a counterfeit, misbranded or adulterated drug or medical device. The crime can be of the second, third or fourth degree depending on the dosage units of drugs, containers or labelings, and number of medical devices involved.
The measure (A-3954), sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth), provides that during a state of emergency, this crime would be of the second degree no matter the number of items involved. Any broker or agent who benefits financially from this violation would also be guilty of a crime of the second degree, which is punishable by five to ten years in prison, a fine of $150,000, or both.
Additionally under the bill, financial penalties would be assessed depending on the amount of counterfeit items.
Assemblywoman Downey released the following statement:
“Personal protective equipment plays a vital role in our fight against COVID-19. It keeps doctors, nurses and other workers on the front lines safe to continue their essential work. We need them to have access to safe, effective equipment and medication.
“Anyone seeking to capitalize on counterfeit devices or drugs during a major public health emergency should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We have no tolerance for this disgraceful crime in New Jersey, particularly now as we combat the greatest threat to public health our nation has seen in over a century.”