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The global pharmaceutical industry unveiled recommendations today to tackle the growing public health threat of counterfeit or fake medicines.
The industry’s call for increased public awareness and crackdown on makers of the unsafe products comes as a group of private U.S. companies launches the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) initiative to target illegal Internet pharmacies.
The four associations – International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and Japanese Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (JPMA) – represent the global research-based pharmaceutical industry and support broad-based initiatives like CSIP as important steps in the fight against counterfeits.
The joint statement said the IFPMA, PhRMA, EFPIA, and JPMA are joining forces to help protect patients worldwide by promoting access to safe and efficacious medicines, advocating robust patient education and awareness about counterfeiting, and combating unsafe medicines. In addition to supporting the individual and cooperative work of the U.S. government, the European Union and its Member States, the Japanese government, and international organizations, the four associations call on private sector stakeholders, including Internet domain name registrars, search engine operators, and payment service providers, to play critical roles in ensuring patient safety.
“Everybody is at risk of counterfeiting,” said Eduardo Pisani, IFPMA Director General. “Counterfeiting is a crime against patients and poses a public health risk that can lead to treatment resistance, extended illness, disability and even death.” The research-based pharmaceutical industry is contributing by raising awareness and building a fact base to help governments pursue counterfeiters.
“Despite strong security of legitimate drug supply chains, law enforcement officials are increasingly facing an uphill battle as more and more criminals turn to the Internet to peddle their fake products to unsuspecting consumers,” said John Castellani, President and CEO of PhRMA. “We applaud the work of CSIP and support it enthusiastically as a means of protecting patients.”
The threat of counterfeit medicines is widespread and growing. Counterfeit medicines have been found in every disease category, in both generic and branded medicines, and in every region of the
world. Many counterfeit products seized from illegal Internet pharmacies contained hazardous ingredients or were not stored properly.
Richard Bergström, EFPIA Director General said: “We expect European policymakers to effectively back the ongoing initiative from EFPIA and supply chain stakeholders to set up an effective safeguard system against the entry of counterfeits in the legal supply chain in Europe. Also we are actively engaged in tackling the threat of counterfeits reaching patients through illegal channels. We believe governments, industry, and other relevant stakeholders must work together to stop this threat. CSIP is a good example of broad collaboration and an inspiration for stakeholders beyond the U.S.”
“With documented cases in at least 124 countries, counterfeiting is a serious global health problem.” said Tadaharu Goto, JPMA Director General. The Japanese Government will soon launch both a website program for public education and a public and private initiative against counterfeits. “We welcome and support the action of the Japanese Government – Mr Goto added – it is only right that the global health community tackle counterfeiting with the same vigor as any other health threat, and as a partner, our global industry will continue to support efforts such as CSIP.”