Leaders of the research-based pharmaceutical industry meeting in Paris have called for strong EU measures to tackle the growing threat of counterfeit medicines.
Experts want a ban on medicine repackaging, a harmonised EU- system of identification of medicines and heavier penalties for trafficking in counterfeit medicines.
EFPIA Vice-President and Chairman of sanofi-aventis, Jean-François Dehecq said: “It is time for Europe to act as the driving force in the fight against this deadly crime.
“Organised crime gangs operating on an international scale and playing with human lives in the name of profit must be dismantled through determined action, systematic prosecution and appropriate sanctions (civil and penal). Penalties in place in Member States today are inadequate. Administrative and operational tools and resources are required for effective law enforcement”.
EU statistics released on 19 May 2008 show that a total of 4.081 million medicinal products (articles) were seized at EU customs borders in 2007.
While Internet-based sales are the main source of counterfeit medicines, these products are also appearing in the traditional supply chain.
Counterfeit medicines have been found to contain toxic substances, no active ingredient, or the wrong amount of it. Life-saving medicines are increasingly targeted, including medicines to treat cancer and heart disease, psychiatric disorders, and infections.
Proposals for tougher EU legislation are expected before the end of the year, as part of the new ‘pharmaceutical package’. Options outlined by the European Commission in its public consultation document (March) include obligatory product sealing and a ban on medicine repackaging.