Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reuters: Counterfeit Drugs on Rise, Pose Global Threat

“Unwary consumers buying counterfeit drugs on Internet.”

On May 19th, Reuters posted a story written by Stephanie Nebehay regarding the recent World Health Organization meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

The article encapsulates the proliferation of this deadly crime and the difficulty in countries around the globe in developing a comprehensive strategy in dealing with it. Although many nations realize the deadly consequences, there are many commercial interests including generics and intellectual properly rights which are complicating efforts to fight this illicit activity on a global scale.

The following are some of the highlights from Ms. Nebehay’s report:

· Production and sale of counterfeit drugs is on the rise in rich and poor countries, with more unwary consumers buying them over the Internet, experts warned on Wednesday.

· Fake or substandard versions of medicines are often hidden in cargos taking circuitous routes to mask their country of origin as part of criminal activity worth billions, they add.

· "They put people at risk of harm from medical products that may contain too much, too little, or the wrong active ingredient and/or contain toxic ingredients," said Margaret Hamburg, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "Counterfeiting is growing in complexity, scale and geographic scope," she said in a speech to the annual ministerial meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO).

· In wealthy countries, counterfeiting often involves "expensive hormones, steroids and anti-cancer medicines and pharmaceuticals related to lifestyle," a WHO report said.

· But in developing countries, especially Africa, counterfeit medicines are commonly available to treat life-threatening conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, it said.

· Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, said that illicit products had also increased the problem of drug resistance, including to vital anti-malarials and HIV/AIDS drugs. "For a patient, any medicine with compromised safety, efficacy or quality is dangerous," she said.

· Major generic drug makers in India and Brazil, backed by health activists, charge that concerns about counterfeit drugs are being hijacked by pharmaceutical companies keen to protect their patents against legitimate generic competitors.

· (Margaret) Chan said that her United Nations agency would not be drawn into policing intellectual property (IP). "The role of the WHO should be concentrating on public health, not on law enforcement nor intellectual property enforcement."

· There were 1,693 known incidents of counterfeit medicines last year, a rise of 7 percent

Drug counterfeiting is a widely growing, deadly illicit act that is impact millions each year while most of the world’s population remains ignorant of the dangers that they face daily as they consume medications.

Secure Pharma Chain Blog, encourages the pharmaceutical supply chain in advance of regulatory mandates to deploy technology and solutions to protect their inventories and the consumer from this deadly criminal deed.

It is incumbent upon industry to lead the way to supply chain safety and protect their businesses and consumers.

To learn more about pharmaceutical supply chain safety technologies, visit:

To read the entire Reuters article, visit:

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