Counterfeiting is an age old issue. It is now a global problem where every sector of our economy has been affected. However, the consequences are different when it comes to counterfeit medicines; the main concern is not so much the loss of revenue to our industry but the health of patients. The Peterson Group, a non-profit organization against drug counterfeiting, has been fighting alongside World Health Organization (WHO) since the deployment of their task force in 2006. We have made development so did the scammers. They seem to dominate more countries and cities from distributing inside China, India until they have reached neighboring cities like Jakarta, Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and even the United States.
Substandard and falsified drugs medicines still cause thousands of adverse reactions and some deaths in rich countries. And the issue is growing. Counterfeit medicines have been found in every disease category, and in every region of the world. Reviews show that while 1% of products in the legal pharmaceutical supply chain in the developed world is estimated to be counterfeit, this figure amounts to 10-15% in emerging markets and 30% in developing countries
Internet is also one of the factors with the spread of counterfeiting. With thousands of websites emerging, hundreds of those are illegal online pharmacies which are not checked by the authorities. Illegal online pharmacies are allowed to roam uncontrolled- creating a truly global problem. In studies, a big percentage of these medicines purchased online are fake or substandard. Some even are nonexistent.
With different partners and campaigns worldwide with the same cause, the sheer amount of initiatives is great. Actually these are necessary if we want to stop what is a global phenomenon. Yet, more thought must be given on how to structure these initiatives, to avoid overlaps but also to make sure that all stakeholders affected are involved in the process. This is a fundamental issue. TPG has already partnered with pharmacies and drug manufacturing companies to further solidify the cause.
It is unacceptable to think that patients could take medication that does the opposite of what they are supposed to. Patients need to be able to trust in the medicines they take. As an industry we want and need to take part in finding long-term solutions to ensure that the problem is stopped.
The certainty is that the counterfeiting needs to be dealt with swiftly to at least contain the problem before being able to solve it once and for all. Work has started and battle lines are being drawn but a lot still needs to be done- and the quicker the better.