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Executive Summary

Revco has initiated a testing program to insure that all Rxs obtained from sources other than the original mfr. or an authorized distributor meet USP standards, the chain announced in a Sept. 26 release. "Effective immediately," Revco Chairman Sidney Dworkin announced, we "will implement a testing program for any drug product that is offered to us by a secondary supplier." Dworkin said that "the objective of this program is to certify that all our products are pure and safe, according to the United States Pharmacopia (USP) standards." Revco said that testing of the secondary supplied drugs will be conducted by Scientific Associates, an independent research and testing laboratory in St. Louis. The firm explained that products purchased from secondary suppliers would be kept separate from other products in their warehouses. Revco would then randomly pick a sample from each lot of those drug purchases and send it to Scientific Associates for analysis. Dworkin said that "if the testing of any lot reveals a product that fails to meet USP standards, the entire shipment will be rejected -- - no exceptions -- - and we will notify FDA." Safety of drugs obtained from secondary suppliers has been the focus of recent hill attention. At a July 10 hearing on drug diversion and counterfeiting, the House Commerce/Oversight Subcmte. released a report which included discussion of Revco's use of secondary sources for Rx products. Citing past instances where the chain purchased diverted Rx drugs, the report states that "Revco appears to have continued its practice of buying from diverters." According to the subcmte. report, a former Revco employee testified that "it made no difference to Revco where the initial diverters purchased the merchandise, as long as they were licensed." The report notes that the problem with that criteria "is that possessing a state license -- - which is quite easy to obtain -- - is no guarantee of quality." In announcing its new testing program, the chain noted that the practice of a retailer purchasing drugs from sources other than authorized distributors or the original mfr. is legal and provides opportunities to purchase products at favorable prices. The chain said it recognized the danger is with those "diverted drug products which have been contaminated, improperly stored, tampered with or adulterated, exceeded their expiration dates, or are outright counterfeits." Dworkin commented that "although, to our knowledge, Revco never has purchased a counterfeit drug, we feel strongly that active, aggressive steps must be taken to prevent this from occurring and thus protect the safety of our customers." He added that "it also is our hope that through the exposure of contaminated diverted products that we will contribute to eliminating these products from entering the market in the first place."

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