Walgreens security expert testifies as Congress mulls retail crime bills
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The federal government should crack down harder on organized criminal activity against retailers with stiffer penalties and tougher oversight, a Walgreens representative told Congress today.
Addressing the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Walgreens security expert Frank Muscato discussed the growing problem of organized retail theft and its impact on chain drug stores. His testimony came as Congress mulls three bills aimed at combating organized retail crime, or ORC.
“ORC is an extremely sophisticated and coordinated crime,” Muscato told the House panel. “It involves highly structured organizations and gangs that hire and control teams of thieves to steal merchandise in large quantities.
“The legislation currently being considered would make ORC a federal criminal offense, which would be extremely helpful in prosecuting more of these large, multi-jurisdictional cases,” Muscato added. “ORC is not garden variety shoplifting. It is organized crime and should be treated as such with stronger penalties and enforcement.”
Organized crime drains more than $30 billion a year from retail business, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, resulting in increased costs for merchants, higher prices for consumers, and lost tax revenue for state and local governments. “These crimes are perpetrated by sophisticated crime rings that often use the proceeds to fund other criminal activity,” NACDS noted.
The hearing examined three bills that would combat organized retail crime: H.R. 6713, the “E-fencing Enforcement Act of 2008;” H.R. 6491, the “Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008;” and S. 3434, the “Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008.” The E-fencing Enforcement Act was introduced by Rep. Robert Scott [D-Va.], chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
“Organized retail crime drains businesses, harms consumers, and sustains illegal activities that jeopardize public safety,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson. “We applaud Chairman Scott and his colleagues for their commitment to stopping this growing problem.”
NACDS is a member of the Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime, established to address the large-quantity theft and re-selling of products such as infant formula, over-the-counter medicines, health and beauty aids, razor blades, batteries and electronics through flea markets, pawn shops, small retail establishments, and online auction sites.
Study questions Lipitor’s efficacy for women
NEW YORK A study published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies has shown that Pfizer’s blockbuster drug Lipitor does little to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems in women.
The study was based on analysis of previous studies on drugs’ effects on cardiovascular health in men and women. Studies had shown that the reduction in heart attack risk was statistically significant in men who used Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium), but not in women.
“Our findings indicate that each year, reasonably health women spend billions of dollars on drugs in the hope of preventing heart attacks but that scientific evidence supporting their hope does not exist.”
Study shows long-term use of Avonex improves quality of life
MONTREAL Data from a study has shown long-term benefits among patients using Avonex to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis, drug maker Biogen Idec announced Thursday.
The study—called Assessment of Drug Utilization, Early Treatment and Clinical Outcomes, or ASSURANCE—represented a long-term follow-up of patients who participated in the Multiple Sclerosis Collaborative Research Group, the original phase III pivotal trial from which Avonex (interferon beta-1a IM) was approved.
“As a physician, my goal in treating my MS patients is to delay disability progression and help them maintain their normal lifestyle for as long as possible,” said Robert Bermel of the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research at the Cleveland Clinic. “This follow-up study identifies a group of patients who achieved benefits from long-term treatment and underscores the importance of starting on and continuing an effective therapy for MS.”