Wednesday 31 March 2010

Darren Olivier

Some alternative methods to fighting fake drugs

The problem of fake drugs is not new to this blog and nor is the debate over whether IP legislation and reliable enforcement effectively deals with the problem. Earlier this month, Afro-IP understands that the Kenyan Anti-Counterfeit legislation was brought to task before the Constitutional Court. Why - amongst other things, because activists (not only those with self interest in the production of generic drugs) believe that stopping the supply of generics (because they fall within the definition of "counterfeit" in the Act) poses serious health risks to developing nations. As one article puts it - a seizure disrupts tenuous supply chains increasing the risks of stock-outs in health facilities. However, IP (on its own and for its own sake) should never be touted as the only solution to this very complex situation, crucial as it may be. An article in Now Lebanon, also illustrating that fakes drugs is not just an African problem, reveals some of these other solutions including the notion that a state run health system significantly reduces the problem of counterfeit drugs:

“In a social health care system that covers all citizens, [the prevalence of] counterfeit medicine deceases, while the opposite is true [with privatized systems],” he said. “In France for example, [an estimated] zero percent of medicine is counterfeit, whereas in Africa the percentage can reach up to 30 percent.”

"Health Minister Mohammad Khalifeh says that his ministry currently sends out inspectors to over 80 pharmacies on a daily basis to buy samples that are then tested. The customs department is also collaborating by increasing surveillance on the country’s borders to control smuggling. Meanwhile, new electronic methods are being used, with drug companies asked to tag their packages with certified barcodes and serial numbers to guarantee authenticity."

“We are bringing it to the public’s attention, not only to highlight the apprehension of criminals but also for awareness purposes. The public should know which pharmacist to trust and how to buy their drugs through legal channels and not to resort to online buying and home deliveries, which is at the root of this problem.”

"To guarantee the product, the syndicate offers its members a hologram to place on medicine packets as a sign of commitment to the specifications of the Ministry of Health and a responsibility toward the proper channeling of drugs from producers to consumers. Syndicate members, according to Phares, have a written and moral obligation to these commitments and represent 90 percent of local suppliers."

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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