Hood op-ed – More action needed to protect America’s Intellectual Property

It began with one patient exhibiting unusual symptoms in 2006. Doctors were puzzled. When dozens of similar cases began to appear, they got worried. But it wasn’t until they found the common factor that the mystery was resolved — counterfeit cough syrup containing diethylene glycol, a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze.

This fake cough syrup was manufactured in China and sold – through international brokers – to the Government of Panama to be distributed to the poor. By the time it was discovered, more than 100 people had died. What stands between that public health horror in Panama and the safety of Americans? We — and thousands of law enforcement officials across the country — do.

As Co-Chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General’s Intellectual Property Committee, we have made it a priority to combat the sale of counterfeit and pirated products. Counterfeiters pose a grave risk to our citizens’ health and safety by trafficking in dangerous products, such as defective electrical products, counterfeit brake pads made of sawdust and fake toothpaste laced with the same chemical (diethylene glycol) as the cough syrup in Panama. Further, intellectual Property (IP) theft is estimated to cost the global economy $250 billion each year, a disproportionate amount of it coming at the expense of the American economy. Counterfeiting and piracy also cause substantial loss of jobs, which we cannot afford during these difficult economic times.

Jim Hood & Rob McKenna
The Hill
2/14/11