Thursday, August 26, 2010

2010, The Year That Counterfeit Drugs Becomes a $75B Global Business

Alan Clock, SVP, XStream Systems, Inc.

As we find ourselves with a little over four months left in 2010, Secure Pharma Chain is re-posting a blog from January regarding the proliferation of counterfeit drugs globally this year.

In 2005, the Center for Medicines in the Public Interest (CMPI), released a report projecting global counterfeit drug sales to reach $75 billion in 2010. At the publication of the report, this projection was a 92% increase from the 2005 estimate of $39 billion of worldwide counterfeit drug sales. Most global experts then and now do not dispute this estimate. In fact, many would not argue the point that today, this estimate may be entirely too conservative and the real financial impact and overall number is much higher.

In 2010, we as a society face a global health catastrophe that will impact people of all countries, race, religion and economic strata.

What will be the key factor that will turn this issue around in the new decade?

"The business of selling fake prescription drugs to unsuspecting consumers is burgeoning, and is a global industry," stated Peter Pitts in 2005, senior fellow for health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute and director of the CMPI. "Nearly $39 billion, or 11 per cent of global pharmaceutical commerce will be counterfeit this year (2005)," added Mr. Pitts. "By 2010, that number will nearly double. We must enact controls to strengthen the security of our health care system from outside threats."

At the time that this report was published, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated. "The increasing flow of counterfeit drugs represents a significant public health threat. We must step up our efforts to safeguard the drug supply -- we certainly should not weaken those controls."

Even with these dire predictions and public support for action in 2005, there has been little appreciable progress in the domestic and international efforts to stem the flow of this worldwide health care crisis. Regulatory, law enforcement and industry efforts to date have been inconsistent overall and seemingly lack an overall perspective of the severity and impact of this issue.

One of the most startling examples of the deadly impact of the global counterfeit medication epidemic is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) estimate that nearly 2,000 children die each day in Africa as a result of bogus drugs. Counterfeit medications in underdeveloped countries not only do not treat illness and disease but are now a major factor in creating drug resistant strains of deadly diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

With the proliferation of counterfeit medications and the impact to people all over the world, the issue, in its extreme, is only now beginning to garner important public awareness.

The public awakening to this deadly scourge is the first critically important step in motivating public and industry leadership to move forward and take action.

With a motivated and aware public, elected and industry leaders will be encouraged to step up their efforts to protect their constituents, businesses and customers.

When properly inspired, these leaders will look to strengthening regulatory authority and in expanding their technology/ processes to thwart these nefarious sources of a deadly criminal act.

To learn more about technologies that are used to combat counterfeit medications, visit:

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