Friday, November 5, 2010

ASHP: Counterfeit Drugs Pose Growing Health Threat

Counterfeit and substandard medicines constitute a real and growing threat to public health, say federal officials and others who deal with the issue.

Kate Traynor in the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists Health Systems News writes an excellent report with some insightful quotes about the October symposium on counterfeit medications that was sponsored by the Partnership for Safe Medicines in Washington D.C.

Included in Ms. Traynor’s story:

"The problem is getting worse each year. The counterfeiters are winning," said Jeffrey Gren, director of the Office of Health and Consumer Goods at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

• Nancy Kennedy, senior operations manager at FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, said that counterfeiters previously limited their activities to bringing small amounts of fake medicines into the United States. "Now you see quantities of these drugs coming in and going directly to doctors, clinics, brick-and-mortar pharmacies and...directly to patients," Kennedy said. "I can see international cases' connections growing, and the type and amount of counterfeit drugs and unsafe drugs coming into the country is significantly growing. So I don't like what I see."

• More than 60 nonprofit organizations, including ASHP, are members of PSM, whose stated goal is to raise awareness about the risks of counterfeit medications. The symposium was sponsored by several pharmaceutical companies and other corporate stakeholders.

• FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the event's keynote speaker, said that in some parts of the world, 30–50% of drugs used to treat serious illnesses are counterfeit products.

• "Still, it's hard to really know the full extent of the problem," she said. "Estimates...vary a lot, and we do need better surveillance and data to truly define the magnitude and scope of the problem."

• FDA announced in the October 13 Federal Register that the agency will commit up to $3.5 million to the World Health Organization for the development of a rapid global surveillance and monitoring system for counterfeits, if the health agencies agree on a cooperative approach to the project.

Industry leadership and consumers in developed countries must be made aware of the danger of counterfeit and substandard medications and that this is no longer just a threat that exists within the third world.

Real solutions and technologies exist today that can eradicate the threat from this dangerous, lethal criminal activity. The global pharmaceutical supply chain must be incentivized to deploy these solutions to protect their brands and the consumer.

To read the entire ASHP article, visit:

To learn more about anti-counterfeiting technologies, visit:

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