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U.S. House approves bill on prescription drug tracking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday setting out how the federal government should track prescription drugs moving through the distribution chain.

The Republican-controlled House passed the measure easily, by voice vote. Some Democrats have opposed the bill for not going far enough to ensure safety.

The legislation, often known as "track and trace," was aimed at enhancing supply chain security for patients, including protection against counterfeit or stolen drugs.

It requires entities along the supply chain, including third-party logistics providers, to verify the authenticity of drugs and notify authorities of suspect or illegitimate products.

The House bill requires drugs to be traced only down to the level of lots, which can contain thousands of individual bottles, or packs of vials.

A Senate version would require each individual drug unit to be traceable after a phase-in period, requiring a bigger investment in technology.

The Senate bill, S. 957, was passed by committee on May 22. It is unclear when the legislation will be brought to the full Senate floor for consideration.

Previous attempts to create national standards for drug tracking have foundered amid complaints from companies that they would be too costly to implement.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)